REC Group orders three PERC tools from 3D-Micromac

Norway-headquartered solar developer REC Group has placed an order with Germany’s 3D-Micromac for three laser contact opening systems that will augment the company’s PERC (passivated emitter rear contact) solar cell production capabilities.

The three microCELL OTF laser systems will be shipped by Chemnitz-headquartered 3D-Micromac to REC Group’s Singapore production facility, where REC is ramping up its capabilities in the PERC space.

PERC solar cells hold immense potential for the PV industry, offering higher efficiencies than standard cells. A critical step in developing PERC involves laser contact opening, which employs a laser to create miniscule pockets in a cell’s passivation film layer that is then applied to the rear surface of a silicon wafer. This allows more light to be absorbed by the cell, thereby increasing efficiencies.

The microcell OTF system handles this step and offers high-throughput capabilities for both mono- and polycrystalline silicon solar cells. According to 3D-Micromac, these tools can handle 4,000 wafers per hour, boasting a 97% uptime. Being contactless, the tool also enables fast processing without surface defects or microcracks, which offers solar developers the highest possible yields for their PERC cells.

"PERC solar production is projected to experience tremendous growth over the next several years, and our microcell OTF laser system continues to gain traction with leading PERC manufacturers as an enabling technology to support their requirements," said 3D-Micromac CEO Tino Petsch. "This order win is a clear example that our strategy of supporting solar cell manufacturers through our extensive process know-how and industry-leading product performance is paying off."

3D-Micromac recently expanded its manufacturing capacity in Chemnitz to meet this expected increase in PERC tool demand, while in March REC Group invested heavily in ramping up its R&D and automation capabilities in Singapore.