For over two decades, the Thin Films Laboratory (TFL) at the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) has been a leader in innovative material research and development for solar energy converter systems. Specifically, the TFL groundbreaking approach in material R&D allowed for a better understanding of the fundamental properties of numerous photovoltaic technologies, including amorphous silicon and polycrystalline copper-indium-gallium-diselenide (CIGSe) alloys. Aside from “conventional” PV systems, HNEI-TFL research activity also comprises the discovery of new photo-catalytic materials capable of direct conversion of sunlight into usable chemical energy, a.k.a. “Solar Fuels”, with focus on solar-driven water splitting for hydrogen production .
The Thin Films Lab is a unique facility at HNEI, situated with sophisticated state-of-the-art equipment for the fabrication of thin film materials and devices, including co-evaporation chambers, sputtering systems and plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition devices.
The research team at TFL is also actively participating in the development of new low-cost synthesis protocols as a substitution to high temperature/vacuum based thin films deposition techniques. The recent introduction of chemistry in solar cell manufacturing was undoubtedly a game changer in material design and could potentially reduce cell production costs. After two decades of R&D in vacuum-based thin film material synthesis, HNEI TFL is now taking a step further toward chemical-based solar cell manufacturing.
For further information about this facility and the research activities carried out in it, contact Nicolas Gaillard .
|PECVD System : MV-Systems dual-chamber high-vacuum "plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition" system with load lock for depositing amorphous and microcrystalline silicon and germanium alloys. Applications include fabrication of photovoltaic materials and devices; and visible and infrared sensors.|
|CIGS Evaporation System : Varian 3125 diffusion-pumped multisource evaporator including five independently-controlled furnaces for elemental co-deposition of copper, indium, gallium, selenium and sodium. For fabrication of CIS and CIGS photovoltaic materials and devices.|
|Sputtering Deposition System : Perkin-Elmer 2400 turbomolecular-pumped three-gun co-sputtering system. Applications include: transparent conducting oxides; catalysts and other novel films; and refractory metal films.|
|Metal Thermal Evaporation System : NRC 3117 diffusion-pumped four-source thermal evaporator for depositing metallic films and contact grids.|
|CdS Film Deposition: Chemical bath system currently handling two 5 cm x 9 cm substrates. Expandable to a larger area.|
Semiconductor/Solar Cell Characterization Station : including high-precision electronic measurement equipment, temperature-controlled probe chuck, solar simulator and LED light sources. Measurement capabilities include:
|Electrochemical Test Station : including high-precision electronic measurement equipment and Plexiglas fixtures for test- and reference-electrode mounting. Measurement capabilities include voltammetry and cyclic voltammetry (pA resolution), and long-term corrosion testing.|
|Quantum Efficiency System : MRG model QE1800 for measurement of photocollection in thin film devices in the 350 - 1800nm wavelength range.|
|UV-VIS Photospectrometer : Perkin-Elmer model Lambda 2 with integrating sphere: for optical transmission, reflection and absorption measurements of thin films.|
|Surface Profilometer : Tencor Alpha Step model 200 for thin-film thickness measurements.|
|Four-Point Probe Station : Signatone model S301-6: automated system for film resistivity measurements.|
Gas Chromatograph: Varian with TCD/FID detectors.
Gas Chromatograph: Shimadzu GC14-A.
Surface Analysis at UH
In addition to the HNEI equipment listed above, the UH campus boasts a wide range of sophisticated surface analysis techniques which are generally available on a recharge basis.