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Think Small _ issue1_ volume 1


  • pg 1
									Your Experts in Microtechnology and Electronics.

Think Small !
                                                                                                                                                             Issue 1 volume 2

                                                                                                                                                               February 2007

The newsletter covering the frontiers of MEMS, optronics and nanotechnology
Published by WTC – Wicht Technologie Consulting

Editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2   Feature Article . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1, 9     Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Mems News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         2   “Solar Cell Manufacturers Bank on                          Contributing staff: Henning Wicht, Jérémie Bouchaud,

Opto and Photovoltaic News . . . . .                      6   Thin-Film”                                                 Olivier Nowak, Richard Dixon, Bernardo Knoblich,

Nanotechnology News . . . . . . . . . . .                 7   Interview with Schott Solar . . . . . . 11                 Stefan De Haan, Karen Melkonyan

Solar Cell Manufacturers Bank on Thin-Film

         he difficulty in securing a                            of some manufacturers is to achieve                        manufacturing targets a reality.
         feedstock supply to produce                          $1.3/W by 2012, i.e. a module that                             In use, thin-film cells provide
         conventional wafer-based                             can deliver 1 W peak would cost $1.3                       advantages such as semi-transpar-
solar cells has encouraged a frenzy of                        to produce. This would represent a                         ency, flexibility and low weight.
industry projects related to thin-film                         marked improvement over today’s                                The major disadvantage of thin-films
solar cells. Wtc has counted some 34                          cost, estimated to be in the range of                      cells is their low efficiency—up to 13%,
companies developing and in some                              $2-5/W. New opportunities are thus                         depending on the technology, com-
cases building production lines for                           arising for semiconductor equipment                        pared with 18% for conventional cells.
thin-film cells. Last year saw First Solar,                    and materials suppliers to make these                          The efficiency (followed on page 9 C)
Nanosolar and Ersol announce invest-
ments in the range of $100 million                            ����
each to build new thin-film plants.
    At this rate, thin-film cells could
represent about 20% of the pv technol-                        ����
ogy installed (on a year to year basis)
worldwide in 2012. Wtc estimates that                                                                                                                               ����
the market for thin-film cells is set to                         ���
explode in the next few years, reaching
$1.5 billion in 2012. While the usa has                                                                                                                             ��������������
been steadily loosing ground to Japan                           ���
and Europe in wafer-based cells, about
half of the thin-film cells are made by
us companies and this share is expected                            �
                                                                        ����      ����       ����      ����       ����    ����        ����        ����

to remain high (although the produc-
tion may not be located in the us).
    Aside from the silicon shortage
pushing manufacturers towards thin-                             Industry Quote:
film, there are other good reasons to                            “Thin-film is growing faster than the overall photovoltaic market. It could deliver
consider the technology. Thin-film                               up to 1.5 GW out of the 5.6 GW that epia estimates will be installed during the
cells have the potential to achieve mass                        year 2010. Currently only the production capacity is holding back the thin-film
production at low costs. The target                             market.”

WTC – Wicht Technologie Consulting • Think small ! issue 1, volume 2 • February 2007                                                                                           Page 1
Your Experts in Microtechnology and Electronics.

 Editorial                                     Microsystem News
                                               Bestselling CE products sell               Kodak enters inkjet printer
                                               MEMS sensors                               market
                                                    In mid-February Nintendo said             Eastman Kodak Co. has elbowed
                                               its groundbreaking Wii console has         its way into the inkjet-printer market
                                               become the fastest-selling console         with home printers that produce docu-
                                               in history, selling 4.7 million units      ments and photos using ink cartridges
                                               in just under three months. This is        that cost about half its main competi-
                        Dr. Henning Wicht,
                        CEO                    more than the PS2 or Gamecube              tors—HP, Canon, Epson and Lexmark.
                                               sold together in the same timeframe.       The latter use the cheap printer—ex-
                                               The Wii deploys two 3-axis accel-          pensive cartridge model. Kodak’s

         un parks consume lots of en-          erometers from ADI and STMicro-            approach is based on slashing the cost
         ergy and send CO2 into the en-        electronics for motion controllers.        of printing using a proprietary pig-
         vironment. However, now you                Meanwhile Apple’s I-Phone, on         ment-based ink and fixed, wide MEMS
 can have fun with a clear conscience          the market this June, is likely to be      print heads in five-ink color cartridges.
 at parks like the one at Santa Monica         a blockbuster too, if the number               WTC comment: This is a small
 Pier, which features the world’s only         of blogs and ad campaigns of re-           revolution in the closed and lucrative
 solar-powered Ferris wheel. Rising            cent months are anything to go by.         world. The top 4 players dominate and
 more than 130 feet above the Pacific           The I-Phone will use 3 sensors:            protect their business using aggressive IP
 Ocean, riders not only have a view                 - accelerometer for image rotation
 of the majestic expanse of ocean,                  - proximity sensor detects
 they can see more than 650 pho-               when iPhone lifted to ear, turns
 tovoltaic panels supplying 71,000-            off display to save power
 kilo-watt hours of fun power.                      - ambient light sensor to auto-
     Photovoltaics is the topic of this        matically adjust display brightness.
 issue of Thinksmall. The reason: the               WTC comment: What’s common
 market is growing by 40% p.a. And             between the I-Phone and the Wii? Not
 because there are many open ques-             revolutionary use of MEMS. Nintendo
 tions concerning the best technology,         has been using MEMS accelerometers
 production equipment and business             - with limited success - since 2001. Ac-   activities (est. 500 patents a month) that
 strategies. For instance, how can             celerometers for image rotation were in    effectively block the sector to outsiders.
 medium sized equipment suppliers              Vodafone cell phones already in 2004.      Kodak integrates the printhead in the
 compete when large semiconductor                   What’s new here is a full-blooded     printer, not the cartridge. This will result
 players are entering the market? How          marketing communication campaign.          in stagnating revenues for inkjet heads,
 can we avoid price dumping from               MEMS is at the heart of the new product    from $1.9B in 2004 to $2.4B in 2009, or
 Chinese manufacturers? Which tech-            strategy. Nintendo goes beyond 15-         3.8% CAGR (source NEXUS III report).
 nologies will drive module produc-            year-old gamers with new interfaces for
 tion costs from 3 € to 1€ per Watt?           motion sensors that please other users
     As in MEMS and Nano, WTC                  with fishing, golf, orchestra conductor…    Microphone news
 analyses technologies and markets.                 The Sony PS3 integrates MEMS              Fujitsu Computer Systems has
 We want to help you better position           motion sensors (accelerometer, 1-          chosen Akustica’s AKU2000 digital
 your products. So enjoy our feature           axis gyro) and cell phone manufac-         microphones to embed a microphone
 story on thin film photovoltaics               turers confirm that image rotation          array in its Tablet PC. Driving this ap-
 and let the sun shine in on you.              could become a standard function           plication is interest in high-quality voice
     Henning Wicht                             (albeit with a 50 cent sensor…). See       recording for voice annotating files
                                               workshop #1 on inertial sensors.           and Voice-over-IP, in particular using

WTC – Wicht Technologie Consulting • Think small ! issue 1, volume 2 • February 2007                                            Page 2
Your Experts in Microtechnology and Electronics.

Microsystem News

MEMS for superior voice input, small           EPCOS acquistion extends sen-                features of these new resonators.”
form factor and RF/EMI immunity.               sor portfolio                                     Epson Toyocom is using quartz
     Infineon recently unveiled its first            EPCOS has acquired Aktiv Sensor,         MEMS to volume manufacture a
silicon microphone. Suitable for arrays,       a manufacturer of pressure sensors.          tuning fork crystal operating at
the device features a signal-to-noise          This adds to the company’s tempera-          32.768 kHz. The FC-13F surface
ratio of 59dB(A) and sensitivity of            ture sensors. The combination makes          mount device measures 3.2 x 1.5 x 0.6
10mV/Pa. Compared to ECMs, the                 sense as both are frequently used in         mm3, and targets mobile devices.
company claims its MEMS device is              the same applications and are conse-              WTC comment: The flow of MEMS
half the size (4.72 x 3.76 x 1.5 mm3)          quently in demand by the same cus-           oscillators announcements does not stop!
with one third the power require-              tomer group, while combined sen-             The latest show that the quartz indus-
ment (70 µA). The capacitive device            sors are more and more requested.            try —unchallenged for decades—now
features the MEMS chip and ASIC                    WTC Comment: MEMS per se is              takes MEMS very seriously. Quartz
in the same flat SMD package.                   not new to EPCOS, which began ship-          vendors begin partnering with MEMS
     WTC comment: The market for               ping RF MEMS FBARs for cell phones           start-ups, while leader Epson Toyocom
MEMS microphones reached $ 100                 early in 2006. The acquisition of pressure   introduces “MEMS” words in its offer.
million in 2006 (source WTC custom             sensor technology does offer interesting      Precision-wise, its Q-MEMS oscilla-
market workshop 2). Knowles largely            perspectives in a key market for EPCOS:      tors are not revolutionary. These are not
dominates (90% market share in 2006).          automotive. The press release highlights     Silicon MEMS as at SiTime or Discera
Paradoxically, the arrival of Infineon          that pressure sensors can be combined        but quartz crystals micromachined using
                                               with the company’s in house tempera-         microfabrication techniques, as Seiko
                                               ture sensing technology. This combina-       already does with gyroscopes. Tech-
                                               tion will be required in future genera-      nologically, this allows further quartz
                                               tions of TPMS systems, for example.          oscillator miniaturisation. Marketing-
                                                                                            wise, it surfs the current wave of MEMS
                                                                                            oscillators. Also worth noticing is the
                                               MEMS oscillator news                         recent progress in CMOS clocks, which
                                                   Discera and Vectron International        compete with MEMS. In February,
                                               have formalized a strategic partner-         Mobius Microsystems published stabil-
                                               ship under which each will distribute a      ity results that exceed those of current
                                               clock oscillator with respective brand       CMOS, i.e. temperature coefficient of
is good news for Knowles. Without a            names to different market segments:           8ppm/°C and initial frequency accu-
strong second source, OEMs are nerv-           Vectron to high-reliability and mid-         racy of +- 100 ppm. More information
ous and the market expansion of MEMS           range markets like military, aerospace       is available in WTC custom market
technology would slow down. Infineon            and high-end consumer, and Discera to        workshop 4 (see page 4, 12 for details).
is very good at playing second source,         consumer and the computing market.
having demonstrated it with FBAR filters            US MEMS timing startup SiTime
in cell phones (arriving on market 2           and the Swiss quartz crystal and oscil-
years after the pioneer Agilent/Avago).        lator company Micro Crystal also             Inertial sensor news
Infineon adopts this strategy since its         joined to develop and distribute the              VTI’s new 1-, 2- and 3-axis digital
first product has the same footprint as         former’s MEMS oscillators under the          accelerometers offer the same perform-
one of Knowles’ lead products. Infi-            brand name First™ and EpiSeal™.              ance irrespective of direction relative to
neon will also leverage its existing               SiTime’s CEO Kurt Petersen said:         the mounting plane, providing flex-
offer and add MEMS microphones to               “As Micro Crystal is part of the Swatch      ibility of measurement location and
some of its modules for cell phones.           group, they are uniquely positioned          assembly into vehicles for applications
                                               to take full advantage of the many

WTC – Wicht Technologie Consulting • Think small ! issue 1, volume 2 • February 2007                                            Page 3
Your Experts in Microtechnology and Electronics.

Microsystem News

like vehicle dynamics, hill start assist-      device now measures 5 x 5 x 1.15 mm3.                           The Central Research Labora-
ant and electronic parking brake.              OKI offers an evaluation board that                         tory of Hitachi has sunk the size of a
     Bosch Sensortec’s fifth product            includes optional pedometer software.                      pressure sensor chip to 1 sq. mm by
within 18 months is a programmable                 WTC comment: OKI combines its                          stacking the MEMS and peripheral
digital accelerometer. With dimensions         3-axis accelerometer with 2- or 3-axis                     circuitry. The company claims the
of 3 x 3 x 0.9 mm3 Bosch has halved            magnetometers for personal navigation                      size is reduced by 90% and power
its size compared to previous genera-          applications, already shipping into PDAs                   consumption (0.6mA) by more than

                                                                                       Courtesy Infinics
tions. Applications include consumer           and cell phones on the Japanese market.                    50% compared to existing solutions.
electronics and mobile devices. Bosch          WTC expects Japan to be the most im-                            Hitachi says MEMS is at odds
plans to start series production in            portant market for these “electronic com-                  with CMOS as it requires high-tem-
June 2007. The current consump-                pass” modules in the next 3 years. OEMs                    perature processing. Hitachi forms
tion is 0.2 mA (1 µA in standby).              are willing to accept a higher price for                   its capacitive sensor in an air-tight
     Freescale Semiconductor has un-           this function in Japan than in the ROW.                    sealed hollow structure made of W
veiled three tri-axis accelerometers. The          Also, a new norm will make GPS                         and tungsten silicide in a CMOS wir-
MMA73x0L series offers 1.5g to 12g              mandatory in all cell phones in Japan                      ing layer using the standard wiring
sensitivity with a two g-select option         from April 2007. WTC expects this to                       formation process at 400°C or lower.
(1.5 and 16g) that replaces the previ-         boost the market for location and naviga-
ous four, which the company says its           tion based services and related sensors
customers don’t typically need. Prices         (see WTC custom market workshop 1).                        French startup targets IMU
begin at $2 for consumer applications.                                                                    and motion capture markets
     Oki Electric has added a low profile         Hitachi drastically cuts                                 French atomic agency CEA-Leti has
3-axis accelerometer to its range. The         pressure sensor size, power                                spun out Movea, a developer of IMU-

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WTC – Wicht Technologie Consulting • Think small ! issue 1, volume 2 • February 2007                                                         Page 4
Your Experts in Microtechnology and Electronics.

Microsystem News

based motion caption solutions initally        APM concentrates on its foun-             lent process technologies. We help our
targeting the health care industry.            dry and ODM business                      customers achieve shorter time-to-
    WTC Comment: Movea’s key                       The Taiwanese MEMS manufacturer       market and lower manufacturing costs.”
competence is the software and al-             Asian Pacific Microsystems (APM)
gorithm development, needed to in-             until recently commercialized its own
terpret and process the interaction            products (e.g. wireless RF modules, and   WTC bullish on DLP revenue
of raw signals generated by multiple           MEMS pressure sensors) in parallel             New estimates from WTC in-
sensors—a highly complex task.                 to providing MEMS foundry services.       dicate that TI’s revenues for its dig-
    Other companies in this space              APM will now spin out its own product     ital light processing chips appear
include X-Sens, Vega Vista... Some             business and now focus 100% on its        to have recovered in 2006 to reach
MEMS sensor manufacturers ally or              MEMS foundry and ODM business.            $905 million. Following a 8% drop
buy companies with this expertise,                 “We see great opportunities coming    in 2005, this is up again by 15%.
like Honeywell’s acquisition of Point          for MEMS foundry and ODM serv-                 WTC comment: We expect that the
Research, e.g. to provide plug-and-            ices in the mobile devices, automotive    front projection business will remain
play solutions for CE applications.            and telecom area,” comments Albert        the main revenue driver in future.
    More on this theme in Work-                Chang, APM Co-Founder. “Thanks to         However, the TV business will con-
shop #1: inertial & magnetic sen-              this positioning, we can better deploy    tinue to suffer from LCD and plasma
sors for consumer electronics.                 our resources to focus on our excel-      competition. More in workshop #5.

WTC – Wicht Technologie Consulting • Think small ! issue 1, volume 2 • February 2007                                       Page 5
Your Experts in Microtechnology and Electronics.

Opto and Photovoltaic News
First production plant for roll-                                             (rec), the world’s largest manufacturer       market share to thin film cell technology.
up flexible displays                                                          of solar grade polycrystalline silicon and
    Polymer Vision is teaming with                                           silicon wafers. Also, with the inking of a
Innos of the UK to establish the first                                        long-term agreement with Elkem Solar          Tessera buys Eyesquad
production plant for organic sem-                                            for supply of metallurgical silicon, Q-           Tessera Technologies, a company
conductor based “rollable” displays.                                         Cells expects to substantially secure its     whose patents cover chip-scale and
Polymer Vision’s screen is larger than                                       further growth over the next few years.       multi-chip packaging technology, has
the device itself and provides readability                                        WTC Comment: Cell manufacturers          acquired Eyesquad, an Israeli company
similar to printed paper. Available in                                       have learned first-hand how tough the          that designs digital auto-focus and
either roll- or fold-out formats, the dis                                    business can be when the raw materials        optical zoom products. This buy further
                                                                             become scarce. Some are building fully        strengthens Tessera’s position in the
                                                                             integrated factories. Q-cells has chosen to   camera phone market. Tessera recently
                                                                             invest in one of the few suppliers, thereby   went on a shopping spree that saw it
                                                                             securing an edge over its competitors         acquire Shellcase for wafer-level image
                                                                             that also buy from rec, in addition           sensor expertise Digital Optics (MEMS
                                                (Credit: IPolymer Vision )

                                                                             to securing its own silicon supply.           micro-optical technology) for camera
                                                                                                                           phones among other applications.
                                                                                                                               WTC comment: While there is not
                                                                             Sharp to commercialize triple-                much information, it is interesting that
                                                                             junction cell in May                          Eyesquad’s technology is solid-state and
                                                                                  Sharp Corporation has developed a        therefore very compact and suited to
Polymer Vision rolls out handheld flex display
                                                                             new architecture for stacked triple-junc-     small dimensions in the Z-axis, which
play extends to 5 inches. It comes with                                      tion thin-film solar cells that boosts cell    is key to camera phones. The microfocus
16 gray levels, high contrast and high                                       conversion efficiency from the original         and autozoom sector is crowded. Three
reflectivity for use in sunlight, such as                                     11% to 13%—at the top end in the              established technologies—voice coil and
reading newspapers and other content                                         industry (see feature article). Module        stepper and piezo-motors—are jostling
downloaded from the mobile net and                                           efficiency gains are from 8.6% to 10%.          eachother for position. About 10 other
stored in a 4 Gb memory. Polymer                                                  The new structure is a sandwich          technologies are in the research phase,
Vision also collaborated with E-Ink,                                         of conventional two-active-layers of          including liquid lenses and MEMS
a manufacturer of electronic ink.                                            amorphous silicon bonded through a            actuators. More on this theme is avaial-
    WTC Comment: This is a step in                                           p-n junction of single microcrystalline       able in WTC custom workshop #6
the right direction for flexible displays:                                    silicon. The dual amorphous silicon           “Micro autofocus and zoom market”.
the announcement demonstrates seri-                                          layers increase the voltage, while hav-
ous (and imminent) market intent. The                                        ing three active layers in combination
bending radius, while not given, suggests                                    with microcrystalline silicon decreases       Laser projection news
10 mm from a device height of 21 mm,                                         light-induced degradation. Using                  Microvision (Redmond, wa) is
which is impressive. However, the refresh                                    the same equipment as conventional            incorporating green lasers from both
speeed of 0.5-1 sec is not suited to video.                                  tandem cells, this effectively increases       Novalux and Corning into separate
                                                                             efficiency and lowers price per watt.           thin, full color projection displays
                                                                                  WTC Comment: The efficiency of             (“PicoP”) designed to be embed-
Q-cells buys 18% stake in REC                                                thin-film cells is growing ever closer to      ded in cell phones or other similarly
   Solar cell manufacturer Q-Cells has                                       that of low-end wafer cells. Sharp manu-      sized devices. The advantage of laser
acquired close to 18% of the shares of                                       factures about 25% of the world’s solar       projection is sharp, vivid images that
Norwegian poly-silicon materials com-                                        cells (measured by Watt capacity) and         can be projected to different sizes in
pany Renewable Energy Corporation                                            is very intent on converting some of that     high quality. The projection display

WTC – Wicht Technologie Consulting • Think small ! issue 1, volume 2 • February 2007                                                                          Page 6
Your Experts in Microtechnology and Electronics.

is based on Microvision’s proprietary          AIST develops cheap mass pro-                               commercial application in buildings
Integrated Photonics Module.                   duction method for CNTs                                     or car windows. The new thin film is
    Microvision will extend its develop-           A team at Japan’s National Institute                    made of magnesium and titanium. State
ment of such displays with automotive          of Advanced Industrial Science and                          switching is achieved by introducing
heads up displays (HUD) applications,          Technology (AIST) and Zeon Corp.                            gas containing a low concentration of
and recently signed a deal with Visteon,       have jointly synthesized a large number                     hydrogen (about 1%) or gas contain-
a tier 1 automotive supplier interested        of single-wall cabon nanotubes (CNTs)                       ing oxygen (about 20%) into the space
in deploying laser-based displays.             directly on a nickel plate. Using what is                   between the panes. Small amounts
    Meanwhile, Novalux claims it has           known as a “super-growth technique”,                        of hydrogen and oxygen for use in
made a big leap towards its perform-           nickel alloy replaces expensive silicon                     the switching process can be readily
ance target for red lasers. Its Novalux        substrates typically used to synthesise                     generated by decomposition of water.
Extended Cavity Surface Emitting               CNTs and is claimed to be at least 100-
Laser (necsel) now offers 1.5 W,                fold cheaper. The synthesized single-
twice the output of its previous of-           wall CNTs are grown upright on a metal                      Super dense memory chip
fer but short of the 3W at green and           foil to form 1 mm high structures in                             UCLA and California Institute of
blue wavelengths needed to produce             10 minutes using a furnace developed                        Technology researchers have demon-
RGB high-definition projection TVs.             specifically to produce CNTs in volume.                      strated a 160-kBit memory device using
    “Reaching 1.5 W is a significant                WTC comment: The lack of a growth                       interlocked molecules. The memory
step toward our goal of shipping               process for mass production of CNTs is                      is a series of perpendicular, crossing
RGB lasers with 3 W per color for              holding up commercialisation. The mar-
our initial product,” said Greg Niven,         ket for CNT material currently amounts

                                                                                                                                                           (Credit: Amercian Physical Society
Novalux VP of marketing. “We are               to €200 million per year, and is expected
on track to deliver all-NECSEL RGB             to boom to several $ billions as soon as
sources to our consumer electron-              a cheap mass production approach is
                                                                                       (Credit: Philips)

ics partners for integration into HD           available, driven by promising CNT ap-
laser TVs for Christmas 2007.”                 plications like FETs with channels based
    WTC Comment: Laser based TVs               on single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWC-
potentially offer twice the color gamut         NTs). Accordingly, the development of a
plus higher brightness and contrast at         synthesis technology yielding SWCNTs
25% the power consumption of plasma.           with high orientation, density, and purity
The red laser operates in the 615-625          at industrial scale is of significance.                      Each node of a set of perpendicular, crossing
                                                                                                           nanowires represents a storage element.
nm range, and compared to slightly                 WTC is coordinating a technology
longer wavelength edge emitters is better      roadmap on CNT (see www.arcorc.org).                        nanowires. Sitting at each crossing and
matched to existing TV phosphors.                                                                          serving as storage elements are 300 bist-
    Osram has signed a licensing agree-                                                                    able rotaxane molecules, which can be
ment for Coherent’s Optically Pumped           Nano thickness films enable                                  switched between two states. Each junc-
Semiconductor lasers to develop red,           switchable mirrors                                          tion is addressed individually by con-
green, and blue lasers for projection              In more news from AIST, research-                       trolling voltages applied to the top and
TV and so called “pocket projectors”.          ers have succeeded in developing a                          bottom crossing wires, forming a bit at
    Light Blue Optics, a developer of          thin film nanotechnology material                            each nanowire crossing. The memory
miniature laser projection technol-            that allows a mirror to switch between                      density is purported to equal “a density
ogy, has inked a licensing agreement           reflective and transparent states.                           predicted for commercial memory
on a key patent from the University                Previous work has focused on Mg-                        devices in approximately 2020”.
of Cambridge for real-time, full-              Ni films, which exhibit a yellow tinge                           WTC comment: There are several
color holographic laser projection.            in the transparent state—barring their                      “nano-memories” under development

WTC – Wicht Technologie Consulting • Think small ! issue 1, volume 2 • February 2007                                                                Page 7
Your Experts in Microtechnology and Electronics.

Nanotechnology news

from companies like Thin Film Elec-            tion guidelines. The company actively                  methodologies for life cycle analysis.
tronics (polymer), Nantero (CNT), and          researches the impact of nanoparticles                     WTC comment: EH&S issues are
Cavendish Kinetics (nano-electrome-            on health and the environment, e.g.                    actively debated by researchers and
chanical. ) Further out are disruptive         partnering on the NanoCare project                     policymakers alike and in contrast to
approaches like bistable molecules.            investigating health aspects of nano-                  other sectors, at a relatively early stage
Ultimately, these investigations could         materials. Degussa believes the issues                 in nanotechnology’s industrial develop-
pave the way for entirely new compu-           relating to nanotechnology should be                   ment. Since the influx of consumer
tational concepts implementing both            “transparent to the general public.”                   products like cosmetics, health effects
logical operations and memory func-                The European Union’s Seventh                       need more thorough investigation.
tions with individual molecules.               Framework Programme (FP7) has                          Nanoparticles feature a huge surface
                                               earmarked €3.5 billion for funding                     area for negligible mass, requiring
                                               nanotechnology research from now                       advanced equipment for their detection.
EH&S News                                      until 2013. A number of calls relate to                    That both companies and fund-
    Specialty chemicals manufac-               risk assessment, including generat-                    ing agencies worldwide emphasize
turer Degussa is setting an example to         ing quantitative data on ecotoxicol-                   nanotechnology EH&S bodes well for
other manufacturers by developing safe         ogy, nano-specific tests, exposure                      responsible, safe commercial adoption
nanotechnology product and produc-             and risk assessment methods and                        of future nano-enabled products.
                                                                                       (Credit: 3M)

WTC – Wicht Technologie Consulting • Think small ! issue 1, volume 2 • February 2007                                                       Page 8
Your Experts in Microtechnology and Electronics.

Feature Article
Solar Cells Manufacturers Bank on Thin-Film
Continued from page 1

of a thin-film cell initially degrades                                        separate process, especially in the case        playing right to thin-film’s strengths.
quickly, then reaches a plateau (which                                       of cigs (copper indium gallium disele-       Bipv is the main target application for
is the nominal efficiency in com-                                              nide) and CdTe (cadmium telluride).
mercial products) where it slowly                                                In their favour, thin-films obvi-
degrades. Long-term reliability still                                        ously require much less semiconductor
is an issue for certain modules.                                             material than wafers, i.e. 20–30 g/m²
    Also, some thin-film cells require                                        vs 1 kg/m² for wafer-based approaches
toxic elements such as cadmium                                               (although this amount is dropping)

                                                                                                                                                                           Courtesy of MSK Corporation
which will have to be recycled when                                          and need less energy to produce;
the cells reach the end of life.                                             150 kW/m² vs 550 kW/m² for wafer-
                                                                             based approaches. Even accounting for
Opportunities in manufactur-                                                 the lower area efficiency, this makes
ing to reach industrialisation                                               thin-film more interesting per Watt.
While wafer cell production                                                      Ultimately, manufacturers want
ressembles that of integrated cir-                                           to manufacture thin-film square-me-
cuits, thin-film cells are, in their                                          ter modules in a roll-to-roll proc-
                                                                             ess. But for the moment, the issue
                                                                             in the manufacturing of thin-film
                                                                                                                          Semi transparent (a-Si) solar panels replacing
                                                                             cells remains the uniform coat-              windows on the roof and walls of a building
                                                                             ing of large or rather wide areas or
                                           Courtesy of United Solar Ovnoic

                                                                             bands of material. Bands currently           thin-film cells. Whereas wafer-based
                                                                             extend to a few tens of centimetres.         solar panels are add-ons to the build-
                                                                                 Since the manufacturing of cigs and      ing that require to be fixed on top
                                                                             other technologies like multi-junction       of the construction elements, bipv
                                                                             cells is still evolving industrially, many   components substitute themselves
                                                                             variations exist on the basic approach       for construction elements with added
                                                                             and the processes used at each step. In      electricity generation functionality.
                                                                             this regard, thin-film cells offer excel-          Thin-film modules also offer a
                                                                             lent opportunities to develop new and        decisive advantage over wafer-based
Production of amorphous silicon cells on                                     advanced manufacturing approaches.           in being able to make semi-transpar-
steel foils
                                                                                                                          ent panels that substitute for window
manufacture, closer to displays.                                             Thin-film facilitates building-               panes on facades, roofs, etc. Thin-
    Usually, the process starts with a                                       integrated photovoltaic (BIPV)               film modules are light and easy to
conductive substrate that acts as the                                            Besides the general ramping up           combine with steel plates for roofs
front or back contact. A few microm-                                         of photovoltaics, two phenomena              or reservoirs, and also offer a varied
eters of materials are deposited on this                                     sustain the quite optimistic market          range of appearances, some more
substrate, e.g. by pecvd. Subsequently a                                     growth forecasted for thin film:              aesthetically pleasing than deep blue
second contact metal is deposited (up to                                     • the manufacturing is demonstrably          poly-crystalline silicon wafers.
around 0.5 µm) and micro-structured.                                            entering the industrial stage and             Another potential market for thin
Finally, the cell is encapsulated, usually                                      attracts many potential suppliers         film cells is off-grid energy supply
in a polymer film. Contrary to wafer-                                         • funding schemes are pushing build-         in impoverished, isolated areas such
based cells, the encapsulation is not a                                         ing-integrated photovoltaic (bipv),       as in parts of Africa, or the electric-

WTC – Wicht Technologie Consulting • Think small ! issue 1, volume 2 • February 2007                                                                                Page 9
Your Experts in Microtechnology and Electronics.

Feature Article

ity supply of isolated appliances with                        mature technology, currently available                                                       can already deliver, e.g. one being
low power consumption. Here, thin-                            only from First Solar (usa) and Antec                                                        Würth Solar. Several production (as
film cells would provide cheaper                               Solar (Germany) so far. Commercial                                                           opposed to pilot) lines are scheduled
systems than wafer-based modules.                             modules achieve efficiency of 8 to 9%,                                                         to start producing in 2007 and 2008.
    Assuming flexible thin-film cells                           with laboratory cells reaching 16.5%.                                                             Multi-junction cells combine amor-
can be manufactured in volume,                                    Copper indium–gallium selenide,                                                          phous silicon with micro-crystalline
completely new applications include                           sulfide (cigs/cis) include a range of                                                         silicon (µc-Si) or silicon germanium
military solar tents, clothing and sails.                     compounds, the exact recipes depend-                                                         (SiGe) alloy to absorb a larger portion
However, the current applications are                         ing on the manufacturer’s process. In                                                        of the light spectrum. Despite the name,
constrained by current battery charg-                         use modules delivers 13% efficiency                                                            the typical grain size in µc-Si actually
ers for portable devices like mobile                                                                                                                       does not exceed a few tens of nanome-
phones and gps systems. These (often                                                                                                                       ters. The largest wafer-based cell manu-

                                                                                                                         Courtesy of United Solar Ovonic
flexible, even rollable) chargers can                                                                                                                       facturer worldwide, Sharp, has commer-
deliver up to 15 W but measure up                                                                                                                          cialised double junction (tandem) cells.
to for 30×120 cm² when unfolded.                                                                                                                           It also announced it will start producing
                                                                                                                                                           triple-junction cells in May this year.
CIGS fast emerging as compet-                                                                                                                                   Although thin-film has yet to be
itor to silicon and CdTe                                                                                                                                   fully industrialised, a new generation
There are several thin-film cells tech-                                                                                                                     of solar cell technologies like organic/
                                                              Foldable solar panel based on a-Si cells (147×84
nologies. Amorphous silicon (a-Si)                            cm², can deliver up to 34 W)
                                                                                                                                                           dye-sensitized or nanocomposite cells
is the most mature and since the mid                                                                                                                       are already on the starting blocks. And
1990s available from a number of                              and 19.5% in the lab—the highest of                                                          other new concepts—crystalline silicon
vendors. Up to now a-Si cells repre-                          all thin-film types. The technology                                                           on glass or even more radical concepts
sented over 90% of the thin-film cell                          has therefore aroused the interest of                                                        like microspheres—are also vying, quite
offer. The best a-Si cells reach 6.4% on                       many newcomers. Wtc has counted                                                              literally, for their place under the sun.
glass and 4.2% on flexible substrates.                         at least 10 manufacturers with inter-
    CdTe can also be considered a                             est in cigs, but only one or two who                                                         Conclusion
                                                                                                                                                           With a booming photovoltaic market
 Types of thin-film cells and their manufacturers                                                                                                           on the one side, and investors willing
                                                                                                                                                           to fund their expansion on the other,
  Material          Efficiency                          Companies
                   lab record cell       module                                                                                                            thin-film solar cell manufacturers are
  a-Si                 13%      ~8%         6.4% United Solar Ovonic, Kaneka, Mitsubishi Heavy                                                             rapidly developing their technologies
                                                 Industries (MHI), Schott Solar, EPV, Ersol, VHF                                                           and building out the production capac-
                                                 Technologies, Fuji Electric, PowerFilm                                                                    ity that can help them tap the market.
  multi-            17.8%        11%        8.6% Sharp Solar, in R&D: MHI, Schott Solar, United                                                                 For all the equipment and mate-
  junction                                       Solar Ovonic, Kaneka                                                                                      rial suppliers, and especially those
  CIGS, CIS         19.5%         n.a.       13% Würth Solar, DayStar, Global Solar, MiaSole,                                                              that have no done so yet, this is a very
                                                 Showa Shell, Nanosolar, Honda, Johanna Solar,                                                             good time to get involved in thin-
                                                 Solibro, HelioVolt, etc
                                                                                                                                                           film solar cell manufacturing. ■
  CdTe                 16%        n.a.     8–9% First Solar, Antec Solar
  CSG                 9.8%        n.a.      ~7% CSG Solar                                                                                                  Olivier Nowak

  organic            *5.2%        n.a.        n.a. Konarka              * obtained by New Mexico State University

 The efficiencies given in the table are best-of-breed but the values progress constantly. For the end user, the overall
 efficiency is also affected by other system elements, e.g. inverter, connectors.

WTC – Wicht Technologie Consulting • Think small ! issue 1, volume 2 • February 2007                                                                                                         Page 10
Your Experts in Microtechnology and Electronics.


Dr Winfried Hoffmann, Manager Schott Solar GmbH
WTC: After several years of impressive         [the point at which the cost to produce
growth, the photovoltaic market has            photovoltaic electricity for the inves-
flattened in 2006. Why is that?                 tor becomes equal to the price that
Winfried Hoffmann (WH): For                     customers must pay to the utility at
three years the costs of raw materi-           peak times in liberalized markets] will
als have been escalating rapidly. This         not come before 2015 at the earliest.
concerns of course chiefly the silicon
feedstock. Since 1998 the produc-              WTC: In Alzenau, the manufacturing
tion has been growing on average               site of Schott Solar has been producing
40% per year and the capacity of the           thin-film solar cells in amorphous sili-
traditionnal sources became exhaust-           con for 20 years. However thin-film still
ed. The outage pushed silicon spot             represent only 5% of the market. How
prices in the range of 150 to 200 $/kg,        will the market for thin-film develop?
even 250 $/kg. That is 4-5 times the           WH: Thin-film is growing faster than
2004 market price (30-60$/kg).                 the overall photovoltaic market. It
                                                                                             Dr Winfried Hoffmann keeps a busy
At the same time the prices of other ma-       could deliver up to 1.5 GW out of the         schedule from his many positions
terials such as aluminium (for frames),        5.6 GW that epia estimates will be            as member of the management
silver (for contacts), plastic foils (for      installed during the year 2010. Cur-          committee of Schott Solar Gmbh,
encapsulation) have been rising steadily.      rently only the production capacity is        President of the European Photo-
Overall the material costs represent           holding back the thin-film market. I           voltaic Industry Association (EPIA),
                                                                                             President of the German Solar
around 70% of the manufacturing                expect thin-film cells to develop in two
                                                                                             Economy Association (BSW) and
costs of modules. The economies of             directions: one into higher efficiency          member of the scientific boards of the
scale that the photovoltaic industry           targeting 15% and another with the            Fraunhofer Institute for Solar energy
achieved could simply not compensate           aim of lowest cost per sq. m, ideally for     Systems (FhG-ISE) and the Institute
for the increase in material costs.            building-integrated PV applications,          for Solar Energy Research (ISFH).
                                                                                             As of April 2007 on, he will leave
                                               where thin-film is especially suited.
                                                                                             Schott Solar to become the Chief
WTC: Once the price and availability                                                         Technology Officer (CTO) of the Solar
issues are solved, are there other fac-        WTC: China has built a production             Business Group of Applied Materials.
tors that could slow down the growth of        capacity of 1 GW, whereas its internal
the photovoltaic market?                       market is estimated at only 5 MW.           Chinese manufacturers derive little
Private customers want to order im-            Chinese manufacturers must therefore        benefit from access to cheap labour.
mediately after taking the decision to         export all their production. Can Euro-      But the manufacturing wafer-based
buy a system. However the amount of            pean manufacturers stay competitive         modules remains relatively energy
paperworks required for a grid-tied            on their home and world markets?            intensive. Chinese manufacturers have
system can discourage potential buyers.        WH: First let me say that the labour        access to very cheap energy and water
For example in Spain it may take up to         costs in PV manufacturing repre-            as the prices are still set by the State
14 months to get all the autorizations.        sent only a small fraction of the total     instead of the market. I expect that this
Another factor is that the market              costs, especially in cell manufactur-       advantage will diminish as the Chinese
remains heavily subsidised. For several        ing. The most advanced processes            utility markets are liberalized. ■
years, the photovoltaic market will            in PV are almost fully automated.
                                                                                           This interview carried out by H.Wicht & O. Nowak
still need continued funding support           Labour costs represent only around 5%       at EPIA meeting, Brussels, 13 February 2007.
from the state to survive. Grid parity         and this part is decreasing. Therefore

WTC – Wicht Technologie Consulting • Think small ! issue 1, volume 2 • February 2007                                                 Page 11
Your Experts in Microtechnology and Electronics.

Best selling analysis: IMUs for                  Meet WTC at the following events:
CE, oscillators and scavengers
                                                  Event                  Date                Location       Booth # / Presentation
Last September, WTC launched a series
of individualized market workshops                Photovoltaic Fab       March 11-13         Leipzig        on arrangement to meet
that are unique in being customized               Managers Forum
by the client. These workshops offer               Nanotech North-        March 27-29         Helsinki       on arrangement to meet
                                                  ern Europe
focused answers to the questions of
an individual organisation, in contrast           Smart Systems          March 27-28         Paris          “How much MEMS does
                                                  Integration                                               a system manufacturer
to a standard broad-based report.
     Best selling custom work-
                                                  PV Technology          April 4-5           Munich         on arrangement to meet
shops are so far:                                 Show
     - 1: Inertial & magnetic MEMS
                                                  Micromachine           April 26-28         Venice         “Changes in the MEMS
sensors for consumer electronics                  Summit                                                    industry”
     - 4: MEMS oscillators
                                                  AMAA 2007              May 9-10            Berlin         “Prospects and strategic
     - 7: Micro-energy, especially                                                                          considerations for auto-
micro energy scavengers                                                                                     motive MEMS...”
     For more information, please
                                                  SID 2007               May 20-25           Long      on arrangement to meet
see www.wtc-consult.de/workshops/                                                            Beach, CA
and contact Jérémie Bouchaud at
tel. +49 89 207 026 020; Email: jer-
emie.bouchaud@wtc-consult.de.                  us market. We’ll also comment on the          be the focus of the following paper:
                                               associated risks such as increased price      “Prospects and strategic considera-
                                               pressure, or the arrival of new players.      tions for automotive MEMS compo-
Automotive MEMS at Smart                            WTC will also analyse the strategic      nents suppliers and system integra-
System Integration and AMAA                    issues and impact on the supply chain         tors”. This will feature at AMAA 2007,
2007                                           and present its findings in a presenta-        to be held in Berlin, 9-10th of May.
WTC’s recent activities include re-            tion entitled: “How much MEMS does
search into the latest trends in MEMS          a system manufacturer need?” at
                                                                                               We welcome your comments and feedback
sensors for automotive applications.           Smart Systems Integation 2007 con-              about this newsletter and its contents. Please
WTC will present its key findings, e.g.         ference in Paris, 27-28th of March.             contact:
growing opportunities for ESP sys-                  A similar high level view of strategy,     Richard Dixon
tems containing inertial sensors as a          R&D spending, new sensor function-              Phone +49 89 2070 260 70
result of upcoming regulations in the          alities and updated markets will also

                           WTC–Wicht Technologie Consulting is a consulting                    WTC – Wicht Technologie Consulting
                           company specialised in microsystems and microelec-                  Frauenplatz 5
                                                                                               80331 Munich
   tronics. Wtc offers customised market analysis, strategy planning, roadmap-                  Germany
   ping, business development and search for technology partners. We also                      Phone       +49 (0)89 2070 260-0
   offer several off-the-shelf market reports (see www.wtc-consult.de for more                   Fax         +49 (0)89 2070 260-99
                                                                                               Internet:   www.wtc-consult.de
   information) and organise conferences on behalf of third-parties.
                                                                                               E-Mail:     info@wtc-consult.de
   Our customers include small, medium-sized and large companies as well as
                                                                                               Managing Director:
   research institutions and public organisations. Wtc was founded in 2000 by                  Dr. Henning Wicht
   Dr Henning Wicht and now employs 10 consultants.                                            Ust-Id.No. DE 8304435

WTC – Wicht Technologie Consulting • Think small ! issue 1, volume 2 • February 2007                                                    Page 12

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