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Colnatec & U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium Sign Joint Research & Development Agreement

Colnatec Tempe™ sensor to be tested on manufacturing scale equipment with a focus on improving yield, extending run times, and increasing conversion efficiency for CIGS thin film solar cell manufacturing

Gilbert, AZ, April 18, 2013 --( Arizona-based Colnatec LLC and the U.S. Photovoltaics Consortium (PVMC), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), SEMATECH, and the Research Foundation of the State University of New York (SUNY), have signed a joint research and development agreement with the goal of advancing the competitiveness of the U.S. photovoltaic industry. The research and development project itself is designed to prove the efficacy of Colnatec’s real-time, high-temperature film thickness sensor system, Tempe™, in a manufacturing-scale equipment environment.

One of the key issues in CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-selenium) solar cell manufacturing is in-situ process control during the CIGS formation process. Due to the high temperature and corrosive selenium environment, typical commercial sensors cannot operate. Colnatec sensors, however, are uniquely designed to work within the hazardous CIGS process environment and can produce accurate measurements of deposition flux for process monitoring and feedback control.

“We’ve been able to prove our Tempe™ sensor works successfully within our own lab,” commented Colnatec Chief Technology Officer, Scott Grimshaw, “but we don’t have the full-scale manufacturing environment and seasoned production engineers available through PVMC. Working together, we will show our monitoring system is capable of such accuracy and reliability that conversion efficiencies and production yields will skyrocket.”

Wendy Jameson, Colnatec CEO, added, “The PVMC is a prestigious organization we’ve looked forward to working with for some time. Great things will certainly come from Albany over the next few years, and we’re thrilled to be included in their research.”

The Tempe™ System is designed for thin film coating process control when high evaporation or chamber temperatures are required. Because it is able to maintain temperatures within a range of 50-500ºC as well as initiate a high-temperature self-cleaning cycle, it excels at extending crystal life, reducing interruptions in a continuous process environment, and minimizing errors from rate noise. The Tempe system is equally suited for high temperature semiconductor manufacturing processes, including atomic layer deposition (ALD), chemical vapor deposition (CVD), and rapid thermal processing (RTP). Combined with the Eon™ film thickness controller, which is capable of real-time correction of any natural frequency drift in the crystal during heating, any process that requires heated crystals or high measurement accuracy will see exponential improvement, leading to the highest accuracy possible as well as enabling continuous crystal operation without cooling.

About Colnatec LLC
Colnatec designs, develops and manufactures state-of-the-art sensors and electronic instrumentation used in the production of CIGS thin film solar cells, organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays and lighting, and high speed electrical devices. Through the use of patented and patent-pending technologies, researchers, manufacturers and system builders are able to increase the conversion efficiency of photovoltaic films, increase production run times, lower costs, improve overall performance, and ultimately increase yield. Funded in part by Phase I and Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the US Department of Energy (DOE), Colnatec is the holder of numerous patents and is an inaugural winner of the 2011 Arizona Commerce Authority Innovation Challenge Grant. As part of the DOE SunShot Program, they are members of the DOE Small Business and Clean Energy Alliance Partnership. For more information, visit, (480) 634-1449, or
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Wendy Jameson

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