Shimadzu Corporation Introduced MCXS Anti-Reflective Coating System and SCI Series Cell Inspection Systems that Support for Solar Cell Manufacture

–– Contribute to High Reliability, High Productivity, and Low Costs ––

KYOTO, Japan--Shimadzu Corporation (TOKYO:7701) today introduced the MCXS anti-reflective coating system and two SCI series cell inspection system models for the crystalline silicon solar cell production process.

[Background to Development]

The solar cell market is experiencing increased demand in China, which has introduced preferential policies to secure areas of demand and to cultivate local companies, in the USA and India, where good conditions are in place for solar power systems, and in Japan, which has started feed-in tariffs for renewable energy. In the long term, huge increases in energy demand due to economic growth and improved living standards in developing countries are expected to increase demand for solar energy in regions with good insolation conditions, including Africa, the Middle East, South America, and South-East Asia. By 2030, it is predicted that the total output will increase to 128,600 MW, which is 3.2 times the 2012 level.*1

This situation demands lower manufacturing costs and high resistance to Potential Induced Degradation (PID), which can cause problems of reduced output from megasolar and other solar power systems.
These issues must also be resolved for the anti-reflective coating and associated deposition systems that suppress the reflection of sunlight and enhance energy absorption to contribute to enhanced power generation efficiency, and a high level of performance and productivity is demanded from them.
Shimadzu has adopted a newly developed hollow-cathode plasma source and the direct plasma method to create the MCXS plasma CVD system, which is capable of forming anti-reflective coating that are highly resistant to PID at high throughput and low running costs. By terminating crystal defects on the surface and inside of the substrate with a high-density plasma and improving the performance of solar cells, this system contributes to a higher conversion efficiency.
Thanks to the high rate deposition achieved by the low-frequency, high-density plasma, crystalline silicon solar cell modules produced by the MCXS system offer high PID resistance. This has been proved by the verification results from the Phase II Consortium Study on Fabrication and Characterization of Solar Cell Modules with Long Life and High Reliability, conducted by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).

On the other hand, the competition for solar cell quality is becoming ever more severe. To achieve more stringent quality control while increasing productivity, there are strong demands to automate the inspection processes that are currently performed manually at the solar cell production stage.
To meet these demands, Shimadzu has developed the new SCI-8SM Compound Inspection System, which performs simultaneous inspections of microcracks and wafer appearance in a single system, and the SCI-8S Exterior Inspection System, the most compact instrument in the field*2.
These inspection systems help avoid lengthy production halts due to production line stoppages and contribute to enhanced yield.

Through the introduction of these three systems into the ever-expanding solar cell market, Shimadzu is contributing to the widespread adoption of environmentally friendly renewable energy.

*1: Investigation by Fuji-Keizai; *2: Investigation by Shimadzu

[Features of MCXS]

1. Proof of High PID Resistance
These tests conducted by AIST were performed for 168 hours at 25 °C, with the module cover glass immersed in water, and at 1,000 V. The results indicate no drop-off in output from solar cell modules manufactured using deposition by the Shimadzu system.
This product contributes to the supply of highly reliable solar cells.

2. Contribution to Enhanced Solar Cell Production Capacity
The newly developed hollow-cathode plasma source generates high-density plasma that improves the decomposition efficiency of the source gas and achieves the highest deposition rate (at least 100 nm/minute) by the direct plasma method in the industry. Furthermore, the inline high-speed transport mechanism achieves a throughput of over 1,700 wafers per hour, higher than that of any other conventional system in the class, to contribute to higher production capacity of the overall production line.

3. Lower Cost
As well as high-speed deposition and compact system design achieved by vertical substrate loading, the system also reduces the upkeep and maintenance expenses through longer maintenance periods, one-third the power consumption of previous systems, and half the running costs. That is, it is an energy-saving manufacturing system that reduces the energy costs associated with solar cell manufacture and improves the efficiency of source gas use.

[Features of SCI-8SM]

1. Simultaneous Rapid Inspections of Microcracks and Wafer Appearance
The SCI-8SM inspection system is a single system that handles various inspections and measurements previously performed by separate test instruments, including microcrack inspections (fine cracks in the wafer that adversely affect the conversion efficiency and crack rate during production), wafer external inspections for cracks or bumps, inspections for particles on the anti-reflective coating, and film-thickness and distribution measurements. It offers rapid measurement times of less than one second per wafer.

2. Quicker Film-Thickness Measurements
Conventional instruments used multiple standard samples to perform film-thickness measurements. This required over five hours' preparation time before measurements could start, including creating the calibration curve. The SCI-8SM employs calculation techniques developed according to a unique measurement principle based on optical theory and enables rapid calculation of film thickness from the reflection intensity of visible light. This feature permits immediate measurements without the need for any preparation time.

[Features of SCI-8S]

Most Compact Instrument in the Industry
A unique, specially developed optical system that minimizes the aberration offers the same high functionality as the SCI-8SM but is 15 % more compact (by volume) than conventional instruments in its class. It is the most compact exterior inspection system in the industry.
It can be installed on a new production line or retrofitted in a restricted space on an existing production line to improve wafer quality.

MCXS Plasma CVD System for the Deposition of Anti-Reflective Coating on Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells
SCI-8SM Compound Inspection System for Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells
SCI-8S Exterior Inspection System for Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells

MCXS 170 million yen (including automatic transport mechanism, tax not included)
SCI-8SM 10 million yen (including lighting power supply, tax not included)
SCI-8S 5 million yen (including lighting power supply, tax not included)

MCXS W4,000 x D7,500 x H2,500 mm (main unit, including automatic transport mechanism)
SCI-8SM W306 x D310 x H951 mm (main unit, including lighting power supply)
SCI-8S W193 x D193 x H315 mm (main unit, lighting power supply not included)

About Shimadzu Corporation

Founded in 1875, Shimadzu Corporation, a leader in the development of advanced technologies, has a distinguished history of innovation built on the foundation of contributing to society through science and technology. Shimadzu maintains a global network of sales, service, technical support and applications centers on six continents, and has established long-term relationships with a host of highly trained distributors located in over 100 countries.

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