Zimmermann & Schilp’s non-contact PV wafer handling systems use an ultrasound air bearing for completely new ways of handling c-Si wafers. The PV technology roadmap dictates that thinner PV wafers will be necessary to aid in material cost reduction, along with equipment performance improvements and higher efficiencies.
Crystalline solar wafers are extremely fragile and can experience breakages brought about by the various handling technologies in the solar cell manufacturing chain. Material stress can be generated during the handling process, destroying the edges or shattering the wafer, or generating microcracks inside the wafer which are not visible to the human eye.
Zimmermann & Schilp’s non-contact PV wafer handling systems are designed to handle wafers without touching the surface. As a result, wafers can be transported without friction, using pins to touch the wafer edges only with one gram of force. Transportation of wafers from the top side is also possible using this method. Maximum throughput of one track is >7000 wafers/h with a breakage rate of 0.005%. The system has a minimal footprint, consuming only 10% of energy compared with other non-contact handling technologies.
The technology is suited to loading and unloading of multitrack belts, wet bench cassettes, quartz boats or matrix trays. Systems can also be modified for wafer buffering or other customized applications.
The systems are extremely flexible, fit several material flow configurations and are ideal for equipment retrofittings.