The Applied SunFab line is a fully integrated thin film production line capable of producing both single junction (amorphous silicon) and tandem junction (amorphous/microcrystalline silicon stack) panels. The SunFab line provides customers with the industry’s first and
only 5.7m2 panels, the world’s largest, which can reduce production cost as well as enable installation efficiencies that can significantly lower balance of system costs.
SunFab uses amorphous silicon (a-Si) based thin film technology to deliver the lowest cost and highest reliability solar panels in the world. We’ve chosen this technology for three important reasons. First, thin film silicon based processes offer the biggest cost reduction advantages. Silicon is one of the earth’s most abundant raw material and after 40 years in the semiconductor industry, Applied Materials is an expert in silicon materials science, giving our customers a significant advantage over other homegrown technologies that are still in the experimental phase. Second, a-Si based thin film has proven long term reliability in the field, supported by numerous research studies and data from commercial applications deployed over 15 years ago. Third, the combination of abundant raw materials with exceptional hardware and process technology found in SunFab is the only one capable of scaling solar production around the globe.
With high uptime and yield, the SunFab line enables significant production cost savings and, overall, a more productive factory. Each SunFab line can achieve a projected output of up to 80 MWp (Tandem Junction) per year. The SunFab line is also highly scalable, with factory sizes up to one gigawatt, further helping to reduce production costs.
The unique advantages of the SunFab line include Applied SunFab Performance Service. Built on decades of semiconductor
equipment service experience, this comprehensive support solution maximizes fab performance and guarantees costs, enabling the
fastest path to maximum MW output and lowest cost per watt. No other company in the solar industry can match Applied’s global breadth and technical depth in this key capability.
The SunFab line is anchored by Applied’s industry-leading deposition technologies, the PECVD 5.7 system and the ATON PVD
PECVD 5.7 system
The PECVD (plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition) 5.7 system uses
technology from the flat panel display industry, where Applied has over 500 systems
in production. This system deposits the large-area, highly uniform semiconductor
layer that makes a solar panel electrically active. The PECVD system also includes
the only integrated point-of-use abatement solution for reactive PECVD by-products, providing proven treatment efficiency at lower operating costs.
ATON 5.7 PVD system
The Applied ATON 5.7 is an in-line PVD (physical vapor deposition) system used to deposit the back contact layer. The ATON PVD
system is based on technology used in the glass coating industry where over 200 of these systems have been used for the last 20 years.
Advanced factory control is essential to a modern solar fab. Applied’s sophisticated suite of automation products includes advanced
systems critical in driving manufacturing efficiency at both the equipment- and factory-wide level. Applied SunFab factory automation systems are powered by Applied E3 equipment engineering platform and Applied FAB300 manufacturing execution technology. E3
connects the SunFab equipment to the execution system, while closely monitoring equipment performance. FAB300 manages
movement of panels. These automation systems offer powerful advanced capabilities and advantages to help control resource
utilization, process and quality management, and yield.
In a little over a year, Applied Materials shipped nine complete SunFab lines. And in one seven month period, Applied ramped 5
factories to volume production in 7 countries on two continents. The first SunFab line achieved volume production only seven months after the beginning of equipment installation. We are constantly meeting tighter time-to-market goals; SunFab lines are achieving the industry’s fastest ramp from groundbreaking to volume, certified production.