Midsummer launches low cost versatile R&D platform for thin film deposition

Specifically developed for universities and research facilities

[Stockholm, Sweden, March 19, 2014.] Midsummer, a leading supplier of equipment for cost effective manufacturing of CIGS thin film flexible solar cells, today announced the launch of the UNO, a low cost versatile research and development platform for thin film deposition specifically developed for universities and research facilities.

The cost effective UNO tool derives from world leading production of CIGS solar cells. With its generic design and optional configurations, UNO is the ideal solution for a range of thin film research applications. It has a high throughput, flexibility, stability and ability to design complex test series.

"There has been a lot of interest from universities and institutes for a lower cost version of our commercial DUO production tool for research and development," said Sven Lindström, CEO, Midsummer. "We are happy to announce the launch of the UNO in response to these requests, and hope that a research tool like this will contribute to accelerate the development of cost-effective and efficient thin film CIGS and CZTS solar cells on a global scale."

The UNO is a platform for CIGS (copper, indium, gallium, selenium) and CZTS (copper, zinc, tin and sulfide) solar cell research. In addition, it can be used for a multitude of applications where a sputtered material stack in an unbroken vacuum chain is required (thin film batteries, fuel cells, small display screens etc.).

The UNO can have up to 13 sputtering cathodes and warm the substrate up to 750°C (1,400°F). It can load up to 300 substrates and run automatic test series, where each substrate has different parameter settings. It can also be supplemented with co-evaporation, analytical tools, database and various options.

The UNO has many of the features and design of the DUO, including a small footprint. The biggest difference between the two tools is that the UNO has only one main vacuum chamber and that sputtering takes place in only one process station at a time, which is suitable for R&D.

Another R&D feature is that the UNO can use both glass and stainless steel substrates and can be equipped with more in-site measurement stations. The UNO is a pure R&D tool and not a low cost production tool. The price of the UNO starts at under $1m, but depends on configuration.

Midsummer's commercial production line is the DUO, a unique and compact CIGS turn-key system with a 5 MW annual production capacity. Midsummer's CIGS cells looks like crystalline silicon solar cells, but are made on stainless steel substrates. This makes the cells suitable not only for regular solar panels, but also for flexible, light weight panels that can be used on membrane roofs, landfills or other structures where the traditional glass modules cannot be applied.

"We firmly believe that thin film CIGS solar cells are the solar cells of the future," said Sven Lindström, CEO, Midsummer. "They are increasingly efficient and have many advantages over traditional silicon-based solar cells. They are durable, can withstand vibrations, can be curved and bent, and can be manufactured cost-efficiently in small volumes."

Thin film CIGS solar panels are thinner and lighter than traditional silicon solar cells made of glass. They are also non-toxic (no cadmium) and can be made frameless, thus ideal for buildings and moving vehicles in cities. They are flexible and can be bent.

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