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About the Process Development and Integration Laboratory

The Process Development and Integration Laboratory (PDIL) is located within the Science and Technology Facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The PDIL brings together technical experts from NREL, the solar industry, and universities to access unique process development and integration capabilities. The focus of their research includes gaining a deeper understanding of semiconductor physics, creating better materials, developing novel device structures, and improving manufacturing methods. In addition, our experts also develop new measurement techniques for use by in-house and outside scientists.

In this section, you can learn some basic facts about the PDIL and understand its physical layout.

Photo on left shows a technician kneeling next to the cylindrical metal chamber that comprises the central transfer tool. Connected to seven of the ten ports around the tool are other units used for deposition and processing of silicon devices. Schematic drawing on the right shows the PDIL with its six bays, which are small enclosed areas that project into the PDIL from the central service corridor. Various cluster tools are shown next to the bays. The unit in the left-hand photo correlates to the silicon cluster tool shown next to Bay 3.

Photo (left) shows the Silicon cluster tool in the Process Development and Integration Laboratory. This tool is associated with one of six bays labeled on the schematic (right):

Bay 1: Copper Indium Gallium Diselenide (CIGS) Bay 4: Cadmium Telluride (CdTe)
Bay 2:Atmospheric Processing Bay 5:Stand-Alone Measurements & Characterization
Bay 3:Silicon Bay 6:Integrated Measurements & Characterization

Process Development and Integration Laboratory Basics

Photo shows nine box-shaped pumping units, in two stacked rows, mounted within a special framework. Copper tubing, which extends from these pumping units, allows specialty gases to be flowed to a cluster tool within the main PDIL area.

Pump rack in Silicon cluster tool bay, showing independent vacuum control of the various chambers.

  • The PDIL's 11,000-square-foot area easily accommodates large equipment and minimizes physical barriers to tool arrangements. The space is not owned by one internal research "silo"; rather, it is a collaborative space.

  • Six "bays" are extensions of the service corridor that bring in-house services such as argon, hydrogen, nitrogen, compressed air, process cooling water, power junction-boxes, and grounding. The bays distribute these services where needed in the PDIL. Utility hookups are accessed via 2-ft by 2-ft trenches beneath equipment areas.

  • No cleanroom is needed because of the controlled sample ambient between chambers.

  • The process development and integration approach used in the PDIL accelerates the growth of the photovoltaic knowledge base by integrating tools, data, and materials.

  • The facility fosters cross-cutting collaboration of experts across multiple research tools and technologies.

  • The PDIL is not "everything for everyone"! It is an amazing facility, but it does not provide every possible capability. Additional expertise and capabilities are available in other laboratories within the National Center for Photovoltaics. In addition, not every collaboration with the NCPV requires a 157-mm by 157-mm size standard or an integrated collection of equipment.

Contact Kaitlyn VanSant for more information on the Process Development and Integration Laboratory. You can also read a short brochure on the PDIL.