By Mark Osborne, News Editor, Photovoltaics International
A variety of thin-film technologies are now entering a volume manufacturing phase. The benchmark has already been set by First Solar, Inc. in its conversion efficiencies, volume ramp and lowest cost-per-watt in the PV industry. Large-area thin-film deposition is a critical process step, dictating cell performance, reliability and manufacturing throughput. However, adoption of thin-film solar cells has been limited in the past by relatively complex and costly manufacturing processes.
The advent of rotating cylindrical magnetrons for sputtering is demonstrating the potential to significantly reduce thin-film manufacturing costs. In this paper we discuss the basics of the technology and the developments taking place with some of the leading suppliers of sputtering target technology for the PV industry.