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Challenging the sun - high-throughput surface structuring in solar cell manufacture
Sun light, the "renewable energy" source, and photovoltaics are attracting more and more interest, which in turn produces cost pressure for more efficient solar panel production due to the competitive situation. Solar cells structured with V-shaped grooves show a significant improvement in efficiency thanks to better light collection. But the costs of the additional operation for structuring have to be minimised, making high-throughput machining essential. At the same time, the dimensions of the structures require high-precision machining of silicon wafers. In collaboration with solar cell manufacturers and process designers a structuring system for large surfaces was built up, which meets the requirements for a brittle material such as silicon. The structuring process is carried out by grinding with profiling tools, for accurate and high-speed generation of the desired surface topology. The machine is designed for production-line operation. The process, which was until now inthe experimental stage, is automated and provides a high level of reliability due to process monitoring.