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Atmospheric Processing Platform Capabilities

The Atmospheric Processing platform in the Process Development and Integration Laboratory offers powerful capabilities with integrated tools for depositing, processing, and characterizing photovoltaic materials and devices. In particular, this platform focuses on different methods to deposit ("write") materials onto a variety of substrates and then further process into optoelectronic materials using rapid thermal processing. You can read more on the rationale for developing this platform and its capabilities. Contact Maikel van Hest for more details on these capabilities.

The Atmospheric Processing platform will allow deposition in any sequence and is applicable to activities in all Technology Roadmaps, which include wafer/film silicon, copper indium gallium diselenide, cadmium telluride, organic photovoltaics, sensitized solar cells, multiple-exciton-generation photovoltaics, nano-architecture photovoltaics, and concentrating photovoltaics.

Most of the techniques are located entirely in glove boxes at atmospheric pressure; several techniques, however, occur within a vacuum (i.e., thermal evaporation, sputtering). Samples can remain in ambient atmospheres with a linear-motion transport system between glove boxes.

Photo of rows of glovebox units, with rubber gloves extending outward from the units' clear windows. Researcher in blue shirt to left has hands in a set of gloves and is handling a sample within one of the units.

Atmospheric Processing platform, showing the spray deposition and inkjet printing units to the left and sample preparation and rapid thermal processing units to the right.

Basic Platform Capabilities

Sample Handling

  1. Central robot
  2. Transport pod: allows inter-tool transfer of samples
  3. Glove box: for loading evaporator sources
  4. Linear-motion transport system

Material Deposition/Device Fabrication

  1. Large-area robotic inkjet printing
  2. Large-area ultrasonic spray deposition
  3. Sputtering chamber
  4. Thermal evaporator


  1. Sample preparation box
  2. Large-area rapid thermal processing

Measurements and Characterization

  1. X-ray fluorescence
  2. X-ray diffraction

The figure shows where chambers or stations—numbered in the list above—are physically located within the Atmospheric Processing platform.

Schematic overhead drawing of the Atmospheric Processing platform. The circular central vacuum robot is connected to a linear array of glove boxes, represented by a series of interconnected rectangles. Each tool is labeled with its function and these labels are included in the list above on the Web page. A four-color bar below the diagram is a key to the class of capabilities of individual tools. Yellow shows sample handling; green shows material deposition or device fabrication; blue shows processing; and purple shows measurements and characterization.

Schematic of the Atmospheric Processing platform and its various interconnected capabilities. The color bar is a key to the basic class of each capability.

Other Support Capabilities

The Atmospheric Processing platform contains many capabilities for atmospheric processing research. But additional integrated and stand-alone measurements and characterization capabilities are available elsewhere in the Process Development and Integration Laboratory. Samples from the Atmospheric Processing platform can be transported to these other tools using the mobile transport pod.