CerCoat _ New CERamic sputtering targets manufactured by SPS using tailored powders for TCO COATing deposition

Reference number 2016-03660
Coordinator Midsummer AB
Funding from Vinnova SEK 1 738 737
Project duration October 2016 - October 2019
Status Ongoing
Venture Eurostars

Purpose and goal

Conventional indium-doped tin oxide and aluminum-doped zinc oxide (ITO/AZO) sputtering targets are prone to nodule (defect) formation, inducing lack of reproducibility during transparent conductive oxide (TCO) thin film deposition, deterioration of coating properties and reduction of sputtering process efficiency. CerCoat aims towards efficient manufacturing of TCO sputtering targets by spark plasma sintering (SPS) from high quality powder materials synthesized by industrial spray pyrolysis.

Expected results and effects

The resulting high quality ITO/AZO sputtering targets will be used for copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) solar cell front contact deposition and locomotive windshield with built-in heating capability. The expected advantages of the TCO thin films deposited using CerCoat sputtering targets include high transparency, low resistivity, improved lateral uniformity and low defect density. Moreover, an increased depostion rate, particularly important in an industrial context, is forseen because of the high density and high conductivity of the targets.

Planned approach and implementation

The CerCoat project is based on the development of reliable and nodule-free ITO and AZO sputtering targets for the deposition of improved transparent conductive oxide (TCO) thin films. The deposition of TCO on top of a thin film solar cell PN junction is necessary in order to extract the photocurrent in an efficient way while effectively transmitting sunlight. ITO and AZO deposition processes will be developed and optimized by Midsummer using new targets. Optimized and stable AZO film development could decrease the production costs of the TCO layer substantially.

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