SMX-ILH system from Solar Metrology provides process control for active, contact, TCO

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Product Briefing Outline: Solar Metrology has expanded its portfolio of System SMX thin-film composition and thickness measurement tools with the introduction of model SMX-ILH (in-line X-ray head) tool, which is designed for in-line composition and thickness control of CIGS and CdTe photovoltaic thin film depositions.

Problem: The properties of TFPV films are notoriously difficult to measure due to their special optical properties. This is compounded by the high-volume production requirements of thin-film substrates and the impact that the wrong composition can have on decreasing efficiency and manufacturing yield.

Solution: SMX-ILH provides process control for active, contact, and TCO layers in PV thin-film stacks, and is capable of analyzing rigid glass, as well as flexible stainless steel and polyimide roll-to-roll substrates. An optional proprietary thermal shield allows for film control at panel temperatures of up to 300°C. The company claims the tool offers fast and repeatable copper-to-gallium ratio determination and both cross-web and cross-panel gradient analysis capability. The tool is said to enable CIGS and CdTe PV panel manufacturers to realize significant yield improvements and conversion efficiency gains in production.

Applications: SMX-ILH is designed to peform measurements in an atmospheric environment, either near-line or in-line. It provides process control and yield management for flexible web substrate materials (such as stainless steel or polyimide) as well as rigid PV substrates (such as float glass). Typical measurement applications include Mo thickness, all CIGS combinations (including all preselenization CIG alloys and/or film combinations and final CIGS formulations), as well as CdS and related buffer layers.

Platform: The SMX-ILH platform comprises two primary configurations, integrated and remote. Integrated SMX-ILH models house all X-ray assemblies, motion control and user interface systems in a freestanding unit; rigid or flexible substrates pass directly through the SMX-ILH tool. Remote SMX-ILH configurations incorporate the X-ray head assembly, head motion systems and X-ray shielding directly into your tool or line; the X-ray head is mounted above the process line, and is operated from a remote system control station.

Availability: July 2010 onwards.

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