July 8, 2009 – Magma Design Automation is making its splash into the world of solar photovoltaics with a new software package to help solar cell manufacturers identify and correct causes of yield loss and thus improve energy conversion.
The Yield Manager Solar software provides a more “holistic” approach to gathering, analyzing, and correlating all of the metrology, inspection and performance data used in solar cell manufacturing that comes from a variety of manufacturing equipment and in a variety of unique formats. Data can be filtered by lot, ingot, substrate, wafer, and other parameters, and the software can generate customized reports and dashboards. Armed with this information, engineers can quickly identify and correct root causes of solar energy conversion efficiency and yield degradation caused by subtle fab processing fluctuations or instability — e.g., monitoring, reporting, and alerting about a non-uniform doping level on a process step, which could cause a drop in sheet resistance and reduce a solar cell’s energy conversion efficiency.
“With YieldManager Solar, fabs can carefully monitor the entire solar cell manufacturing process over time and create highly customized reports that enable them to improve the energy conversion efficiency, reduce the manufacturing costs and increase the yield of silicon wafer-based solar cells,” said Ankush Oberai, VP of Magma’s fab analysis business unit, in a statement.
Simultaneous with the Yield Manager Solar launch, Magma has signed a deal with Orion Metrology to integrate it with Orion’s inline inspection tools for PV solar cell manufacturers, allowing them to monitor random and parametric inline defects and instantaneously feed this information back to manufacturing to minimize the impact and severity of defects, improving yield and product efficiencies. YieldManager also will become the central data analysis component for Orion’s inline process and parametric measurement applications.
“The key to improving product efficiencies and manufacturing productivity is to identify how carrier lifetimes are being affected by process layer over a large area — from the surface to the bulk of the material — on 100% of the production throughput,” stated Orion Metrology CEO Joe Foster. “Our inline approach ensures a more accurate characterization of process variation. If monitored and corrected quickly, even small changes can yield dramatic improvements in product yield and efficiency, significantly increasing the value of the solar panels. Magma’s YieldManager Solar enables the inline and metrology data to be reported, managed, and understood in real time.”