Manz Automation and Optomec enter into an exclusive partnership agreement

05/13/2008 07:35:00 CEST

Optomec successfully developed an advanced contact free metallization process for crystalline solar cells

  • Significant improvement of solar cell conversion efficiency
  • Manz will integrate the Optomec technology into its back end line
  • Manz will be the exclusive partner for the Optomec technology in solar applications

The Manz Automation Group, according to market share one of the world's leading technology suppliers of automation, quality inspection, wet chemical processes and laser process technology for the photovoltaic and LCD industry, entered into a partnership agreement with the American company Optomec.

Optomec, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, is a global leader in the emerging field of printed electronics for Solar, Display, Aerospace and Life Science applications. For photovoltaics, Optomec’s patented M³D Aerosol Jet deposition system allows the contact free deposition of metal collector lines on solar cells. The Optomec solution is able to print much finer lines than is currently possible with traditional screen-printing. The narrower, high integrity collector lines have higher conductivity and a lower shadowing effect, thereby increasing photovoltaic cell efficiency. In addition, because the process is non-contact, M3D Aerosol Jet can print on thinner wafers and with less breakage than screen printing techniques. The Optomec solution, together with an additional electroplating process, shows efficiency improvements of solar cells of 0.5 -1% or more in absolute figures.

Dr. Stefan Glunz, Head of the Department of Silicon Solar Cells-Development and Characterization at Fraunhofer ISE states that "The M3D Aerosol Jet technology has the potential to increase the efficiency of solar cells significantly due to the reduced shadowing losses of the contact fingers. At the same time, it greatly reduces the mechanical stress on the wafer, which is essential for the effective production of solar cells on thin wafers". Dr. Glunz (whose team did the first investigations of M3D for solar applications) further states "Our department at ISE has been working closely with Optomec for the past 24 months as Optomec evolved its printing solution from lab to production ready.”

David Ramahi, President and CEO of Optomec, stated “We are extremely pleased to have Manz as our strategic partner for the photovoltaics market. Manz is an established leader that is highly qualified to deliver high-throughput, high-yield solar cell production solutions, and we are confident that working together we will successfully introduce this new metallization technology and we will achieve higher cell efficiencies.”

Manz’ CEO Dieter Manz is very enthusiastic about the cooperation: “The Optomec technology integrated into the Manz back end line may allow the solar cell manufacturers to make a big step in the improvement of cell efficiency, to further reduce the breakage and to ultimately use thinner wafers. This may help our customer to drive down the overall cost of PV rapidly.“

Both companies have begun the integration work of the Optomec M³D Aerosol Jet system into the Manz metallization system. The first demonstration system shall be presented at the PVSEC (Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference) show in Valencia in September this year. It is the intention to ship the first customer systems before the end of 2008.

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