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Sample Measurements in NREL's Process Development and Integration Laboratory (Text Version)

This page provides the text of the voiceover narration and description of the action in an animated video that illustrates and explains seven key terms related to sample measurements within the Process Development and Integration Laboratory (PDIL)

(Voiceover)
In this video, we illustrate seven terms related to sample measurements in the Process Development and Integration Laboratory.

The video opens on an illustration of a cluster tool, shown in blue. The top of the chamber is transparent, showing an orange robotic arm in the center, pointing to the bottom of the screen and holding a bright yellow, thin-film photovoltaic sample. Eight ports, shown with purple airlocks, surround the exterior rim of the main chamber. A smaller deposition and measurement chamber, shown in green, is attached to one of the ports in the top right corner.

(Voiceover)
This video helps to establish a common vocabulary for these activities as we conduct R&D projects in this laboratory with NREL, industry, and university partners.

The following terms, overlaid on the main cluster tool appear on the screen: Real-time measurement, In-situ measurement, Intra-tool transport, Inter-tool transport, Air transport, Air measurement, and Mobile technique.

(Voiceover)
The first two terms are in-situ terms that relate to activities performed "in the original place," which is the chamber where the sample is being deposited or processed.

The words In situ = in the original place appear over the main cluster tool.

(Voiceover)
For real-time measurements, the sample is placed in a deposition chamber where some sample property is measured, shown here by a red laser beam.

The illustration of the chamber brightens and the words Real-time measurements appear at the top-left corner of the screen. The orange, robotic arm holding the yellow sample begins to rotate to the right and up, stopping opposite the green deposition/measurement chamber. The arm then extends out toward the deposition/measurement chamber, moving the sample through the airlock and into the smaller chamber.

The view then zooms down into the deposition/measurement chamber and stops on a close-up view of the edge of the sample. The word Measurement appears at the bottom of the screen and two red laser beams extend up at angles from the bottom of the screen to meet in the center of the bottom edge of the sample, forming a triangle.

(Voiceover)
This occurs simultaneously with deposition, indicated by the green layer increasing in thickness during measurement.

A green cloud appears at the bottom of the screen and moves quickly up toward the bottom of the sample. The word Deposition appears just below the sample on the right side of the screen. A green layer builds on the bottom of the sample while the top angle of the red laser beam moves downward with the green layer.

(Voiceover)
For in-situ measurements, deposition occurs first, and after it stops some measurement is made on the sample.

The words In-situ measurement appear at the top-left corner of the screen and the word Deposition appears just below the sample on the right side of the screen. Again, a green layer is deposited on the sample. The red laser beam appears again at the bottom edge of the green layer on the sample. The word Measurement appears at the bottom of the screen.

(Voiceover)
Additional material can then be deposited and further measurements can be made during breaks in deposition.

The word Deposition appears again on the right side of the screen just below the sample. A new, orange cloud appears at the bottom of the screen and moves quickly up toward the sample, building an orange layer below the green layer on the bottom of the sample. The laser beam appears again, along with the word Measurement at the bottom of the screen.

(Voiceover)
The next five terms are ex-situ terms that relate to activities performed after a sample has been moved out of the original chamber where it was deposited or processed.

The view pulls out and moves back above the main chamber, looking down. The chamber fades and the words Ex situ = out of the original place appear.

(Voiceover)
For intra-tool transport, the sample is moved from one chamber in a cluster tool to a second chamber within the same cluster tool, where further measurement can then occur.

The words Intra-tool transport appear at the top-left corner of the screen, and a second deposition/measurement chamber appears, which is connected to the airlock just below the first deposition/measurement chamber. The robotic arm extends through the airlock and into the first deposition/measurement chamber where it picks up the sample. The robotic arm then pulls the sample out of the first chamber, rotates down, and places the sample in the second chamber.

A brilliant white light appears briefly in the second deposition/measurement chamber, indicating a measurement has just taken place.

(Voiceover)
The sample remains in a vacuum environment throughout the transport.

The robotic arm extends through the airlock and into the second deposition/measurement chamber where it picks up the sample and pulls it back into the main chamber.

(Voiceover)
For inter-tool transport, the sample is moved from one chamber in a cluster tool to a transport pod, which allows the sample to remain in a vacuum environment while being transported to a second cluster tool.

The words Inter-tool transport appear at the top-left corner of the screen. The view zooms out to include a transport pod, shown as a red trapezoid rectangle, at the bottom left side of the screen, connected to one of the eight ports of the main cluster tool. The words Transport pod appear at the bottom of the screen. The robotic arm rotates down and extends into the red transport pod, where it leaves the sample and pulls back into the main chamber.

The view zooms out again to allow a second blue cluster tool to appear to the left of the first cluster tool. A green deposition/measurement chamber is also attached to this second cluster tool. The transport pod, with the sample inside, disconnects from the main cluster tool, backs up and moves toward the second cluster tool. When the transport pod connects to the second cluster tool, the view zooms in on the second cluster tool.

(Voiceover)
The sample is then moved into this cluster tool and into a chamber for further measurement.

The robotic arm of this second cluster tool extends through the airlock and into the transport pod, where it picks up the sample. The robotic arm pulls the sample out of the transport pod, rotates left and extends through the airlock of the deposition/measurement chamber, placing the sample in the chamber.

(Voiceover)
For air transport, the sample is moved into a load lock, which is then opened to the atmosphere, and the sample is moved to the load lock of a second cluster tool.
Because no transport pod is used, the sample is in an atmospheric environment between cluster tools.

The words Air transport appear at the top-left corner of the screen. The transport pod disappears, and in its place a load lock appears, shown as a tan-colored, round chamber with air locks on two ends. The words Load lock appear at the bottom of the screen.

The robotic arm of the second cluster tool extends back through the airlock and into the deposition/measurement chamber, where it picks up the sample. The robotic arm pulls the sample out of the transport pod, rotates right and extends through the airlock of the load lock, placing the sample in the chamber.

The view zooms back out to include the first cluster tool, which also has a load lock attached to it. Within the first load lock, the air lock closest to the second cluster tool closes and the air lock facing out opens. The sample moves out of the load lock, into the room, and then moves into the load lock attached to the first cluster tool. The air lock facing the room closes behind the sample and the air lock close to the cluster tool opens.

The robotic arm in the first cluster tool extends through the airlock and into the load lock where it picks up the sample and pulls back into the main chamber.

(Voiceover)
For an air measurement, the sample is moved into a load lock, then out of the cluster tool to a measurement technique where the sample is measured in air and at atmospheric pressure.

The words Air measurement appear at the top-left corner of the screen. The view zooms in on the first cluster tool and a green table with yellow instruments appears to the left of the cluster tool.

The robotic arm extends back through the airlock and into the load lock where it leaves the sample. The air lock closest to the cluster tool closes and the air lock facing out opens. The sample moves out of the load lock and over to the green table.

The view then zooms down to the table, stopping on a close-up view of the edge of the sample. A laser beam extends down at angles from the top of the screen to meet in the center of the top edge of the sample, forming a triangle.

The view then zooms out to look down on the first cluster tool. The green table with the sample, and the load lock attached to the cluster tool, fade away.

(Voiceover)
For a mobile technique, a chamber with a special capability can be disconnected from one cluster tool and moved to another cluster tool, where it is reconnected.

The words Mobile technique appear at the top-left corner of the screen. A mobile chamber, shown as a purple rectangle, with air locks on either end, appears connected to the cluster tool. Small white bolts on the outside of chamber's air lock indicate that the chamber is attached to the cluster tool. The white bolts pull out of the air lock and the view zooms out to include the second cluster tool again.

The chamber backs up, turns slightly left and moves forward to the second cluster tool. The view zooms in on the second cluster tool and you can see small white bolts moving into the airlock indicating that the chamber is attaching to the second cluster tool.

(Voiceover)
The following table summarizes the seven terms that we have just illustrated.

The cluster tool disappears and the following table appears:

Measurement Class Transport Ambient Measurement Location Measurement Ambient Measurement Timing

Real-time
measurement

X1

Process chamber

Controlled

During process

In-situ
measurement

X1

Process chamber

Controlled

Post or interrupted

Intra-tool
transport2

Controlled

Same tool

Controlled

Post deposition

Inter-tool
transport3

Controlled

Different tool

Controlled

Post deposition

Air transport
(ex situ)

Air

Different tool

Controlled

Post deposition

Air measurement
(ex situ)

Air

Different tool

Air

Post deposition

Mobile
technique4

Controlled

Mobile

Controlled

Varies with technique

  1. "In-situ": Latin, "in the original place." Real-time diagnostics are a subset of in-situ measurements. Once a sample is moved from the original place (chamber), it is an "ex-situ" measurement, even if it is within the same cluster tool.
  2. Intra-tool transport is the movement of samples between techniques within the same set of interconnected chambers (i.e., the sample transfer within a cluster tool).
  3. Inter-tool transport is the movement of samples between chambers where there is not a direct connection (i.e., independent cluster or stand-alone tools). The transport pod introduces a new inter-tool capability while maintaining a controlled transport ambient.
  4. A mobile technique is within a chamber that can be moved between tools for a fixed set of experiments.

(Voiceover)
This has been a presentation by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Disclaimer: This animation of the photovoltaic process integration project is provided by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which is operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy for the Department of Energy (the Government).

Reference herein, directly or indirectly, to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the Government, the Alliance, or NREL.

This animation is provided "as is" and neither the government, the Alliance, NREL nor any of their employees makes any warranty, express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any such information disclosed in the animation or of any apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights.