4 July 2011

US launch for GEN 2 version of Singulus’ VITRUM thin-film PV wet process tool  

After its European launch at the Intersolar Europe 2011 trade show in Munich (11–15 June), in booth 9335 at Intersolar North America in San Francisco, CA, USA (12–14 July) Singulus Technolgies AG of Kahl am Main, Germany is giving a US launch to its VITRUM GEN 2 enhanced wet-chemical processing system for thin-film solar applications, which is claimed to offer substantial cost-saving potential and enable easy integration into existing manufacturing lines.

As part of the firm’s Solar product family and developed by Singulus Stangl Solar GmbH in Fürstenfeldbruck, Germany, the VITRUM GEN 2 is claimed to be the only tool on the market that can simultaneously clean both the back-side and edges of thin-film solar cells in a single process step without any harm to the active layers. In addition to automated process control, the new single-side etching tool protects the active layer by using process hoods and performs pencil and rear-side etching with brushes and chemicals. The system can be used for cleaning after oven processes as well as for etching undesirable coatings on the back-side and edges, for example in processing cadmium telluride (CdTe) or cadmium sulfide (CdS).

The VITRUM GEN 2 hence enables a reduction in the number of production steps for both amorphous and crystalline silicon (a-Si/µc-Si), copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) and CdTe thin-film solar cells, saving substantial production costs.

The firm says that the VITRUM GEN 2 provides the platform for several different process steps. In a CdTe manufacturing process it can perform six steps, starting with glass washing, back-side cleaning of CdTe, CdCl2 deposition using a roller, and salt removal, to glass washing and developer. When producing a-Si/µc-Si and CIS/CIGS cells, VITRUM can be used for glass washing as well as for TCO (transparent conductive oxide) etching, KCN (potassium cyanide) etching or NH3 (ammonia) treatment, respectively. In addition, it also provides NP (nitric-phosphoric), DAE (1,2-diaminoethane) and EDTA (ethylenediamine tetra-acetic acid) etching for substrate sizes up to 2200mm.

Singulus claims that, compared with dipping processes, the second-generation VITRUM enables homogeneous, reliable and reproducible etching, as well as further advantages on a dipping bath including a higher etch length and concentration, a higher process speed of up to 5m/min, and minimized carryover.

The firm also says that the new design of the VITRUM GEN 2 improves accessibility, allowing optimized maintenance work in a large installation cabinet. Piping is similar for all liquid circuits. It offers a high cycle rate and is also easy to integrate into existing production lines, Singulus adds.

Orders for several systems were received immediately after launch at Intersolar Europe, the first being from Germany’s Institute for Solar Energy Research Hameln (ISFH). The first system was due to be shipped before the end of June.

Singulus says that it plans to further expand its activities in both the Solar and Optical Disc segments. The goal is to attain a leading position in the silicon and thin-film solar segment and to maintain technology leadership in the Optical Disc segment.

Tags: Thin-film PV wet process CdTe CdS CIGS

Visit: www.singulus.de

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