Smit Ovens Announces Order for Thermal Processes to be Used in Production of Thin Film CIGS Solar Cells

Smit Ovens today announced a deal to supply a major existing customer with several further thermal process solutions for thin film photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing. The order covers vapor transport deposition (VTD) systems for mass production of thin-film CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Selenium) cells. It also includes a scaled-down system for deposition of selenium and crystallization of CIGS precursors, suitable for research into process optimization.

“This repeat order underscores the strong relationship we have with this customer, which aims to be a leading player in the global CIGS cell market,” says Wiro Zijlmans, CEO, Smit Ovens. “Thermal processes are a key way to achieve competitiveness in this growing market. We’re already seeing cell efficiencies of 10-12%. And with advance thermal processes manufacturers can get close to production costs of one US$ per Watt – a crucial threshold for creating a mass market for thin film CIGS photovoltaics.”

The scaled-down deposition system which forms part of this repeat order is based on a standard mass production system. It can enable the customer to develop process optimizations which can be easily transferred to a real-world production line.

The VTD systems will be used for mass production, depositing the selenium layer following deposition of the copper, indium and gallium precursors. After this, Rapid Thermal Processing (RTP) is used for optimal crystallization during soaking. Smit Ovens provides systems that ensure maximum flexibility in temperature and timings for subsequent soaking and cooling. With its background as a leader in the glass industry, the equipments flexibility provides fine control so that large glass substrates cool uniformly without risk of deformation or breakage.

Founded in Nijmegen, the Netherlands in 1936, Smit Ovens is a leading supplier of customized thermal equipment and processes for the glass, electronics, displays and photovoltaics industries. It employs around 50 people and currently has around 3000 installations operating, including some 75 in the solar industry.