BT Imaging Introduces the iLS-X1(TM) for Cost-Effective Inline Monitoring of Solar Photovoltaic Wafer and Cell Process Quality

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Source: Marketwire

Enables Non-Stop Full Line Speed Inspection of 3,600 Wafers per Hour

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA -- (Marketwire) -- 09/06/10 -- BT Imaging Pty Ltd (BTi), the world's leading supplier of luminescence-based inspection and quality control systems for the photovoltaic manufacturing industry, today announced the iLS-X1 inspection system that is specifically designed for cost-effective inline monitoring of solar photovoltaic electrical process quality. Based on BT Imaging's next-generation non-stop photoluminescence (PL) imaging technology, the iLS-X1 inspects processed wafers and cells at full line speed -- 3,600 wafers per hour -- enabling cell manufacturers to quickly understand and fix the electrical wafer issues that are impacted by a given process step. The iLS-X1 is designed for easy integration over-the-process-belt or with OEM systems, and includes automated defect classification software.

'Electrical process quality is an important metric for our customers, especially as the industry moves towards higher efficiency cells,' stated Ian Maxwell, chief executive officer of BT Imaging. 'We believe that the iLS-X1 will help solar photovoltaic manufacturers focus on the process issues that matter to them and increase final cell performance.'

Existing inline solar PV inspection tools primarily monitor only the physical attributes of solar wafers and cells like thickness, cracks, color, and pattern using optical techniques. Electrical defects such as dislocations and impurities in the wafer, and defects introduced by incorrect cell processing -- which significantly impact cell electrical performance -- are not seen by current inspection techniques. As the industry migrates to higher efficiency cells, which use patterned emitters and back side contacts, high resolution electrical data is essential to determine if the wafer and cell manufacturing process is operating optimally to maximize final cell efficiency. Photoluminescence imaging inspection is the only technology capable of seeing the full electrical impact of the process on solar wafers and cells.

Easy Integration Into the Process Line

The iLS-X1 is compact and can be easily integrated above any process belt or with OEM systems. BT Imaging will collaborate with OEMs to meet customer needs. The iLS-X1 ™ can be mounted above the production conveyer belt at process steps from post diffusion and onwards, to finished cells. It takes high-resolution (1 MP) PL images of wafers and cells as they go by. Because there is no need to stop the belt to take the image, the iLS-X1 achieves throughput of up to 3,600 wafers per hour, enabling inspection of processed wafers and cells at full line speed.

From Data to Process Improvements

The iLS-X1 offers automatic defect classification. Automated algorithms extract defect signatures from the high-resolution PL images and report the different process defect types seen in cell processes. User definable classification settings allow users to adjust parameters based on their particular requirements. By inspecting and detecting defects generated by a given process, the defects can be correlated with final cell performance. With the iLS-X1, processes can be improved for optimum electrical process performance and monitored to ensure they stay within specification.

The iLS-X1 will start shipping to beta customers in the fourth quarter of 2010. BT Imaging is accepting orders now. The iLS-X1 will be on display at BT Imaging's booth -- Level 2, Hall 3, Stand 8 -- at the 25th EU PVSEC 2010 in Valencia, Spain from September 6 through September 9, 2010. For more information, or to request a demo, please contact Wayne McMillan, vice president of sales and marketing at wayne.mcmillan@btimaging.com, or visit www.btimaging.com.

About BT Imaging

BT Imaging (www.btimaging.com) designs and develops luminescence-imaging systems for the photovoltaic manufacturing industry. BT Imaging's systems are used for research, product and process development, production manufacturing inspection, and quality control of silicon blocks, wafers, photovoltaic cells and photovoltaic modules. Originally developed at the world-leading Centre of Excellence for Advanced Silicon Photovoltaics and Photonics at the University of New South Wales, by Thorsten Trupke, BT Imaging's chief technical officer, and Robert Bardos, the company's vice president of research and development, BT Imaging's patented photoluminescence technology uniquely allows real time electronic inspection of every wafer or solar cell processed through a manufacturing line. Headquartered in Australia, BT Imaging has a world-class R&D centre with close ties to the University of New South Wales; a sales and marketing operation based in California; and distributors in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China and South East Asia. BT Imaging's management team brings together outstanding expertise in semiconductor physics, chemical engineering, photovoltaics, image processing, inspection, and yield.

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Company Contact:
Wayne McMillan
Vice President, Sales and Marketing
(408) 858-8801
wayne.mcmillan@btimaging.com

Agency Contact:
Uma Subramaniam
marcom360
(408) 981-8712
uma@marcom360.com

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