Midsummer deposition tool for R&D

Swedish thin-film manufacturing equipment supplier Midsummer has launched a cost-cutting deposition tool for research and development facilities.

The company’s Uno system, developed for sputtering CIGS (copper, indium, gallium, selenium) and CZTS (copper, zinc, tin and sulfide) thin-film in a single vacuum chamber, promises "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 Midsummer chief executive Sven Lindström. 

“We 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 system uses up to 13 sputtering cathodes and can load up to 300 substates, warmed to 750°C (1,400°F).

The unit, which can be supplemented with co-evaporation, analytical tools, and database options, works with both glass and stainless steel substrates, and can be equipped with more in-site measurement stations.

Designed as a “pure R&D tool” rather than for low cost thin-film production, the price of a Uno system starts at "under $1m, depending on configuration”.

Midsummer’s commercial production line Duo technology, a turn-key system with a 5MW annual fabrication capacity, produces CIGS thin-film that “looks like crystalline silicon solar cells”, but is made on stainless steel substrates.

“[CIGS solar cells] are increasingly efficient and have many advantages over traditional silicon-based solar cells,” says Lindström. “They are durable, can withstand vibrations, can be curved and bent, and can be manufactured cost-efficiently in small volumes.”