MET Service Center Facilities:

Solar Manufacturing

Roll-to-roll Enclosure

Sealed HEPA filtered environment with three mounting level rails for flexible module placement. When opened, the side doors allow complete access to the process modules inside. When closed, operators are safely separated from the equipment.

  • 3 safety switches

  • Sturdy 8020 Aluminum Frame Construction

  • 3 levels for module placement

  • Over 2.5 cubic meters of HEPA enclosed space for modules

  • Main doors slide down providing easy access

  • Numatics air drier

  • 16 air and 8 vacuum taps inside enclosure

  • Ample space under HEPA enclosure for fluid delivery systems

Data and cables connect modules to external PLCs

Capabilities:

  • Run roll-to-roll processing trials on up to a 6” wide substrate.

  • Rapidly configure multiple modules in a HEPA enclosed environment for the deposition of thin films on flexible substrates. 

Controls

The Roll-to-Roll equipment is controlled through two Mitsubishi FX3 Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) using LabView as the human-machine interface (HMI) running on a Windows PC. The PLCs and the PC communicate through an ethernet connection. This enables a simple, familiar, programmable HMI for students and professionals to configure operation. All machine controls are wired through three emergency stops.

  • Output 120VAC and 24VDC

  • 12-5 pole panel connectors for external modules

  • 5 pole 5 meter cord set per connector

  • Fused outputs

  • Emergency control relay

  • 2 - Mitsubishi FX3U Controllers

  • User programmable

Capabilities:

  • Program the operation and data collection of the roll-to-roll process using LabView.

Unwind/Rewind

The primary components for the roll-to-roll equipment are the unwind & rewind modules. Each is powered by a 1/4 hP Mitsubishi motor with tension and speed feedback through a Mitsubishi servo motor controller. This equipment is bidirectional with accurate start/stop capabilities.

  • Two high quality modules (unwind/rewind)

  • Each configured with 1/4 hP Mitsubishi Servo Motor

  • Speed feedback (1 mm/min - 25 m/min)

  • Tension feedback (0 - 10 kg force)

  • Smooth bi-directional operation

  • Quick start/stop capability

  • Mounted onto 1” cast aluminum plate

  • Can be mounted to web guide for more accurate positioning

Capabilities:

  • Quickly load substrates mounted onto a 3” core

Slot Die

The slot die coating is an efficient and versatile tool for thin film coatings utilized in a wide range of industries including solar and battery production. A wide range of material can be deposited. The material is supplied using a positive displacement pump. This allows application of high solids films and directly reduces processing time and waste.

  • Premier Dies Versa Die

  • Micro adjustment for accurate positioning

  • Can be mounted vertically or horizontally

  • 5” diameter nickel plated web drum

  • Simple control of slot width and pattern

Capabilities:

  • Deposit thin films from sub-micron to several mm uniformly over 6” substrates from a variety of low to high viscosity dispersions

Gravure

Gravure coating is a simple and versatile technology utilized throughout graphic and electronics printing. Microcells engraved on the printing cylinder deposit high quality patterned thin films repeatedly along a substrate. Printing cylinders can be made to specification. Direct application reduces waste.

  • Controlled impression roller force up to 150 lb.

  • Screen driven by servo motor from 1 mm/min to 25 m/min

  • Universal doctor blade holder

  • Controlled doctor blade angle

  • Simple fluid recirculating reservoir

 

Capabilities:

  • Deposit highly patterned thin films (up to several microns) across a 6” wide substrate from user supplied inks and dispersions.

Ultrasonic Spray

Ultrasonic spray nozzles are quickly replacing existing spray technologies. They produce an extremely fine mist that results in defect-free thin film coatings with applications in electronics, photovoltaics and batteries. These nozzles reduce overspray and the patterning jets allow for fine control of spray width.

  • SonoTek Widetrack Ultrasonic System

  • Two ultrasonic nozzles - 48 and 120 kHz

  • Controlled spray width up to 24 inches

  • Adjustable spray height

  • Viscosity range of a few cP to several thousand.

  • Adjustable power and flow rates.

 

Capabilities:

  • Spray thin film coatings from a multitude of dispersions using state of the art ultrasonics uniformly over a 6 inch wide substrate.

Dip

Dip coating is a simple method to clean substrates and apply thin films using evaporation. The process is highly economical and easy to implement for a variety of advanced energy materials. There are four individual dip modules that can be configured linearly for multiple chemistries. These can also be incorporated into an electrodeposition process.

  • Chemically inert rollers

  • Configurable frame for numerous fluid reservoirs.

 

Capabilities:

  • Deposit thin film coatings from a dispersion and or pre-cursor chemistry uniformly over a 6” wide substrate.

  • Clean substrates using a cleaning solution.

InkJet

Inkjet printing is a valuable processing technology in roll-to-roll applications with the capability to digitally adjust images. Inks are precisely deposited with superb control of droplet size and position, which reduces waste and improves thin film accuracy. This process is widely used in the development of PVs, LEDs, flexible electronics and other devices where precise thin films are desired.

  • Dimatix Spectra Galaxy printhead

  • ImageExpert imaging tool

  • ImageExpert driver for linear printing

  • Flatbed conveyor with vacuum table

  • Micro adjustment of head position

  • Controlled frequency

  • Multiple head configurations available

 

Capabilities:

  • Print accurate patterns using a programmable inkjet head over a wide area from a variety of dispersions.

Intense Pulsed Light

Sintering nanoparticles using Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Radiation is a novel technique to fuse high temperature materials using very localized heating. This method has been very successful in thin film electronics in which silver nanoparticles are printed and sintered resulting in conductive patterns on plastic substrates. The low temperature and fast processing makes IPL an important technology for roll-to-roll photovoltaics.

  • Xenon Corporation Sinteron 2000

  • Selectable pulse duration 580 to 2000 micro seconds

  • Adjustable pulse energy 150 - 2000 Joules

  • Sintering area 58 cm2

  • Lamp cutoff 370 and 200 nm

 

Capabilities:

  • Rapidly sinter thin films up to several hundred microns without affecting the substrate.

  • UV curing source to rapidly polymerize acrylate monomers and nanodispersion.

IR Heater

Infrared (IR) Driers are used extensively in the printing industry to remove water and solvents from a printed ink. The absorption of IR by the thin film through radiative processes makes this a faster option than typical air driers.

  • Driir Infrared drying and heating equipment

  • Variable speed fan.

  • Variable heater control

 

Capabilities:

  • Dry solvent based coating using IR, a faster option to traditional ovens.

Atmospheric Plasma

Atmospheric plasmas are typically used for rapid surface treatment of polymer substrates to improve adhesion to coatings. They can also drastically change the surface wetability, improving coating cosmetics. The energetics of the plasma can also be used to produce nanoscaled structures at low processing temperatures.

  • Plamax 150S Head

  • 600 Watt RF Power Supply

  • Ar and O2 gas mass flow controlled inputs

  • Adjustable drum height

 

Capabilities:

  • Clean substrates of unwanted organics rapidly.

  • Adjust surface chemistry of substrates to alter the hydrophobicity and hydrophilicity.

Ultraviolet

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation curing is a very popular technique for the printing and coatings industry. The technology replaces costly (energy input and time) thermal curing techniques and is well suited for high throughput roll-to-roll processing. A number of UV curable water borne solutions are now available commercially, making this a more environmentally friendly process.

  • Fusion Corporation F300S

  • 300 W/in UV bulb

  • UV-NIR spectrum

  • Adjustable height between lamp and substrate

 

Capabilities:

  • Rapidly cure acrylate coatings up to mm in thickness.

  • Can be used to clean organics from a surface and to adjust the surface chemistry of a substrate or film.

Pumps

Many of the atmospheric deposition processes utilized in the roll-to-roll equipment are solution based. In some cases, these will be pumped from a reservoir using discrete metering processes. A number of positive displacement pumps are available to precisely meter solutions with a wide range of viscosities.

  • Motor – Masterflex 7258-10

  • Peristaltic – Masterflex 77200-50

  • Gear – Masterflex 73004-02

  • Diaphragm – Masterflex 7090-62

  • Piston – Masterflex 7104-62

  • Micropump – Micropump L3468

 

Capabilities:

  • Deliver coatings of slurries, dispersions and pre-cursors at varying rates to the numerous deposition techniques offered.

Microspray

Applications that require a fine mist over a confined area reuqire precision spray nozzles.  This capability not only provides a scalable pattern, but includes the ability to control the pattern using standard and replaceble nozzles.

  • Nordson EFD 787MS

  • Replaceable nozzles

  • High transfer efficiency

  • No overspray or mist

  • Consistent spray pattern

  • Faster throughput

  • Cycle rate exceeds 400 cycles per minute

 

Capabilities:

  • Precisely deposit dispersions and coatings using an air assisted spray to widths of a fraction of an inches to several inches.

Coating Table

Coating on a roll-to-roll platform can be difficult when very limited materials are available. This coating table is compatable with all the roll-to-roll tools at the Conn Center. The table supports a substrate and passes by the tool simulating a scalable coating process.

  • Controlled through the same HMI used with the roll-to-roll.

  • Can be used in any orientation.

  • Variable speeds.

  • Fully programmable speed, direction and pauses.

 

Capabilities:

  • Deposit coatings using roll-to-roll scalable processes over a short length reducing material requirements and setup time.

Spin Coater

A common tool for applications of solution based thin films is the spin coater. It is capable of depositing films from 10 nm to 10 microns. This particular coater has built in speed and deposition control. It also includes a solvent removal system to maintain constant pressure within the chamber and low volatiles.

  • Laurell Industries WS-650MZ

  • Max sample size 150 mm diameter or 5”x5” suqare.

  • Speeds up to 12,000 rpm.

  • Fully computer controlled.

 

Capabilities:

  • Deposit very uniform thin films from tens of nm to hundreds of microns from a combination of solvents, binders and particles.

UV Safe Room

Many functional devices include UV curable polymers that offer very fast polymerization of films that are coated using scalable processes. The Conn Center includes a UV cureable safe room to mix chemicals. The room is HEPA filtered to reduce contaminants.

  • Easy accessible.

  • HEPA filtered environment.

  • Short term use only.

Capabilities:

  • Prepare UV-sensitive coatings such as acrylates without harming the monomers.

Viscometer

The deposition of solution phase chemistries often requires the exact control or knowledge of the viscosity of the inks/pastes. This viscometer is a very simple and quick means to determine the viscosity of samples.

  • Brookfield DV-E Viscometer

  • Torque measurement accuracy: 1% of full scale range

  • Repeatability: 0.2% of full scale range

  • Compatible with all Brookfield accessories

  • 18 speeds for greater range capability (0.3 to 100 rpm)

Capabilities:

  • Measure the viscosity of solutions, dispersions and slurries from a few cP up to several hundred thousand cP.

XYZ Table

Many solution phase materials can be deposited over complex 3-D shapes. This tool allows users to easily attach deposition equipment. The path is programmed using simple g-code, and also includes an interface to produce g-code for difficult shapes.

  • Travel 24” x 24” x 6”

  • G-code programmable.

Capabilities:

  • Configure the deposition of chemistries, dispersions and slurries to manufacture 3-D parts/devices.

Screen Printer

The screen printing process has been available for a very long timem and finds many applications including in the printed electronics. This piece of equipment from Systematic Automation is very easy to use and includes micro-adjsutments for deposition accuracy.

  • Remote control panel.

  • Emergency stop button.

  • Aluminum tooling plate base ground flat withing +/- .001″ (.025mm).

  • Carriage closes with minimal force for operator safety.

  • Variable stroke length.

  • Universal screen mount.

  • Rear screen frame holder is hinged providing quick access to inside of screen and squeegee.

  • Easily removable squeegee/flood bar assembly.

  • Flood bar rises and falls alternately with squeegee.

Capabilities:

  • Rapidly deposit highly accurate patterns repeatedly from a paste and or dispersion over a wide area.

Ovens

The thermal treatment of thin films is very useful in the removal of solvents and organcs as well as a easy method to sinter. The Conn Center has a standard, vacuum and high temperature oven.

Capabilities:

  • Process thin films at well controlled elevated temperatures and/or vacuums to remove solvents and/or organic materials.

  • Sinter thin films at very high temperatures.

Atmospheric Plasma

Atmospheric plasmas are typically used for rapid surface treatment of polymer substrates to improve adhesion to coatings. They can also drastically change the surface wetability, improving coating cosmetics. The energetics of the plasma can also be used to produce nanoscaled structures at low processing temperatures.

Stand alone unit with moveable stage.

Capabilities:

  • Clean substrates of unwanted organics rapidly.

  • Adjust surface chemistry of substrates to alter the hydrophobicity and hydrophilicity.

Draw down table

A fast and reliable means to test the thickness and quality of coating samples is to use a drawdown table. This unit includes a constant speed bar that accommodate several deposition techniques.

  • Computer controlled constant speed draw down.

  • Optinal equipment includes various knife and mayer rods.

 

Capabilities:

  • Deposit thin films of a few nm to several mm over several inches using a variety of coating processes.

Profilometer

The measurement of very thin films can be accomplished with high precision and accuracy using contact profilometers. This unit is extremlly simple to use and results can be saved to computer files.

  • Tencor Alpha step 500

 

Capabilities:

  • Measure film thickness from hundred micron to tens of nanometers.

Solar Simulator

The Conn Center maintains a complete characterization facility for photovoltaics (PV). This is an open laboratory where students, staff and faculty are welcome to make routine and state of the art measurements of PV devices and films.

  • Newport 94011A simulator

  • Standards compliant to ASTM & IEC for AM1.5G operation at 1.0 sun output

  • Variable attenuator allows partial sun irradiance

Integrated 2 inch filter holder

 

Capabilities:

  • Measure the current and voltage performance of a solar cell.

  • Determine the conductivity of a thin film using a 4-point measurement.

Enclosed Thermal Evaporator

The system is designed to hold up to 8 evaporation sources at a time and allows for co-deposition of up to two sources at a time.  The system is designed to handle both inorganic and organic materials that can be thermally evaporated.  The system allows the dual glove box chambers to be placed under vacuum under very controlled conditions including controlled moisture and oxygen levels.  The fixture allows substrates to be presented to both metal and organic masks and to allow infinite variation of the organic layers on each of the 4 pixels on the substrate. All is controlled by custom software developed at Trovato Mfg. to give the thin films researcher the greatest flexibility and the greatest control over his or her experiments. 

 

Capabilities:

  • Process thin films in an oxygen and water free environemnt.

  • Deposit metal coatings onto devices such as solar cells and LEDs.

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