Thin Film Technology

Thin Film Technology (TFT) has a world-wide reputation in the field of thin film deposition processes. This thin film deposition is an enabling technology for many large area electronics applications, such as thin-film solar, (O)LED lighting and (O)LED displays.

Selenization oven for CIGS solar cells, part of Solliance R&D production line

The mission of TFT is the development of innovative and scalable deposition technology for the production of large area applications. In this the focus is currently on the production of thin film solar cell production equipment.
TFT is an important co-founder of the Holst Centre in 2005 and the Solliance initiative (co-operation between IMEC, ECN, TUE and TNO) in 2010. Within the Solliance initiative TFT is responsible for the development of CIGS based thin film PV production concepts. For this purpose TNO has a reference R&D CIGS production line for 30x30 cm2 cells, consisting of Mo sputtering, CIGS co-evaporation, wet-chemical deposition of a buffer layer and sputtering of ZnO:Al TCO. TFT develops together with industrial partners materials, processes and the next generation production equipment for CIGS solar cells resulting in reduced Cost-of-Ownership.

Efficiency is the key

  • TFT is working on process development of the following technologies, that are i.a. used for innovative steps in the CIGS production process:
  • Spatial atomic layer deposition (ALD) --> CdS-free buffer layer, TCO, barrier layer
  • Atmospheric pressure (plasma enhanced) chemical vapor deposition (AP(PE)-CVD) --> TCO
  • Wet-chemical deposition and patterning --> CIG, buffer layer, grid
  • Selenization --> active CIGS layer
  • Light management --> TCO, nanostructuring

The combination of the above technologies enables a unique processing approach, in which dedicated solutions in terms of cost of ownership and process efficiency can be found. The internal co-operation with Equipment for Additive Manufacturing, Responsive Materials and Coatings and Materials for Integrated Products enables us to develop industrial scale solutions, that can be transferred to new equipment for PV and Lighting for the production of reliable products on a large scale.

TNO activities

R2R Spatial ALD reactor for high throughput flexible applications on foil
  • TNO has developed Spatial Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD), a groundbreaking deposition technology which enables applying atomic layers with high speed (>1 nm/s). The spin-off company SolayTec is currently commercializing this technology for applying a thin passivation layer on silicon solar cells. Meanwhile, TNO has developed a R2R Spatial-ALD machine for high throughput flexible applications on foil.
  • Transparent conductive oxides (TCOs) are used in solar cells and other thin film devices. TFT has many technologies for the deposition of TCOs: APCVD, PECVD, PVD, Spatial ALD, sol-gel and electrodeposition. TNO has developed technology for APCVD of SnO2:F in co-operation with the TU/e, which is used by Helianthos in thin film amorphous silicon solar cells. In several projects for the cost reduction of CIGS solar cell production the APCVD process of ZnO:Al TCOs has been developed as an alternative for the currently used vacuum technologies.
Our work

Materials for the High-Tech Industry

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Equipment for Additive Manufacturing (EFAM)

The department Equipment for Additive Manufacturing (EfAM) develops cutting-edge technology and high-precision machine concepts for 3D printing and layer-wise material deposition. These technologies are... Read more

Expertise groups

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