Electronic Design

Yield Enhancement Software To Aid Solar Cell Fabs

Magma Design Automation Inc. is developing a yield enhancement software system customized for solar fabs to improve conversion efficiency, increase yield and reduce the manufacturing costs of solar cells. Magma is collaborating with Pegasus Semiconductor-Solar to refine product specifications and test the new product, based on Magma’s YieldManager software system.

Solar-converted electricity costs two- to three-times as much to produce as energy generated from traditional sources. Inefficient energy conversion and the need to produce a very large number of wafers contribute to the high cost. Only about 16% of light that hits a solar cell wafer can be collected as usable electricity. To produce enough solar cells to generate 500 mW, a solar cell fab must produce as many as 400,000 wafers a day, an exponentially larger number than even the largest semiconductor plants produce. The cost of the silicon alone, not to mention the manufacturing costs, for that number of wafers is considerable. Improving the energy conversion efficiency, reducing the manufacturing costs and increasing the yield of silicon wafer-based solar cells are critical to the growth of the solar market.

Magma’s yield-enhancement software will allow solar fabs to better monitor all metrology, inspection and performance data throughout the manufacturing process. This would enable fab operators to identify and correct root causes of solar-efficiency and yield degradation caused by subtle fab processing fluctuations or instability.

YieldManager enables fast, accurate analysis and correlation of disparate data from most of the equipment in the manufacturing line. With this information semiconductor test and production engineers can quickly identify and correct root causes of yield loss. A solar-targeting version of YieldManager could effectively address the similar solar cell fabrication process, it’s hoped.

Magma is collaborating with several solar fabs and will soon announce installation sites in Asia. Magma is defining the product specifications with Pegasus Semiconductor-Solar, which will also conduct beta testing.

Magma Design Automation
www.magma-da.com

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