Fraunhofer-led EU solar R&D adds Synova as partner

Feb. 26, 2008 – Synova says it has joined a research alliance led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems to explore how its water jet-guided laser technology could be used as a manufacturing method to speed processing and improve performance of solar cells.

The technology could be a “superior” alternative to conventional lasers, chemical processes, diamond blade saws, and multiwire slurry saws, the company notes, because the wet approach eliminates heat and silicon surface damage, as well as debris contamination improving cell integrity and ultimately better cell efficiency and lower costs. The researchers are looking to combine the technology with chemicals to address a host of PV wafering and microstructuring techniques, including grooving, cutting, slicing, doping, etching, isolation and via drilling.

“We’re excited by the prospect of exploring new opportunities to extend Laser MicroJet’s capability beyond the progress it has already brought to solar-cell production,” said Synova CEO Bernold Richerzhagen, in a statement.

The research alliance is partly a continuation of a July 2007 study on solar-cell edge isolation, following initial collaborative work in 2002. Another LMJ machine is slated to be shipped next month (March); research is expected to continue through 1Q09.

Last year Synova also made other PV inroads through a development deal with Manz Automation, creating a hybrid tool with an inline laser edge isolation system for photovoltaic manufacturing of mono- and multi-crystalline solar cells. Orders for the tool will be taken starting in June of this year.

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