Launch of a Compact Residual Gas Analyzer for Solar Panel Production Lines.

|   Press release

HORIBA STEC, Co., Ltd. (President: Atsushi Horiba, Headquarters: 11-5, Hokotate-cho, Kamitoba, Minami-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto, Japan) will release a compact residual gas analyzer designed for solar panel production lines.
Residual gas analyzers measure in real time traces of impurities remaining in vacuum chambers used on semiconductor and liquid crystal panel production lines. They are used for checking and analyzing states in vacuum chambers in advance to perform thin-film deposition processes under optimum conditions, thereby improving the quality and productivity of semiconductor devices and liquid crystal panels.
In recent years, there have been increasing demands for residual gas analyzers to improve the quality of thin films deposited on substrates in rapidly growing solar panel production. There are also customers who are considering introduction of residual gas analyzers not only to newly introduced manufacturing equipment but also to existing equipment. In particular, there are strong needs for low-price, compact residual gas analyzers that can be operated without any specialized knowledge. To meet these customer needs, HORIBA STEC will launch a new model of residual gas analyzer on March 20, 2009.
We will exhibit the residual gas analyzer at Semicon China 2009 to be held from March 17, 2009, which is a comprehensive exhibition for manufacturing of semiconductors and solar panels.

Our activities for solar panel production

Solar cells are getting worldwide attention as a new type of energy, and are considered to be an industry growing even faster than current semiconductor markets. HORIBA STEC has earned a high degree of trust and the top share in the world by providing semiconductor and liquid crystal panel factories throughout the world with mass flow controllers, which are a kind of fluid control equipment serving as one of the key parts in deposition processes in solar panel production as well as general stabilized vaporizing systems for liquid materials to be used for thin films. We will also focus on development of monitors for real-time measurements and analyses of states in vacuum chambers used for deposition processes. We are developing products to meet customer needs by utilizing resources in the HORIBA Group.In development and commercialization of the new residual gas analyzer, we applied the know-how that we have accumulated in the most-advanced semiconductor production processes and collected the requirements of customers in Europe and Asia leading the world in solar panel production. The new residual gas analyzer will be released to the world market on March 20, 2009, through our sales network and the global sales network of the HORIBA Group.

Major market needs

Compact size: This is the world's smallest model with a sensor one twentieth the size of sensors of other brands. This residual gas analyzer uses quadrupole mass spectrometry to measure ultra-trace gas components remaining in a vacuum. The sensor has a basic structure composed of four cylindrical electrodes and measuring parts. Larger detection parts and thicker and longer cylindrical electrodes are needed to improve measurement capabilities.
Our sensor adopts an innovative structure with 16 cylindrical
electrodes and 9 pairs of detection parts. This successfully
improves the detection capability and downsizes the sensor by a
factor of twenty. This compact analyzer has the advantages of
smaller installation space and easy installation to existing
production equipment.
Reduced price: We have developed the analyzer for solar cell panel production equipment at a reduced price. Analyzers for semiconductor processes need to support a wide range of measurements. On the other hand, analyzers for solar panel production are mainly intended for measurements of ultra-trace moisture and oxygen. For this reason, we have commercialized and mass-produced an analyzer specifically designed for a narrow range of measurements. We propose reduction in total introduction cost with a price reduced to two thirds that of equivalent products of other brands and enhanced network performance.
User-friendliness: The main unit is equipped with a color liquid-crystal display, which allows anybody in the field to obtain analysis results on easy-to-read graphs. It has been recognized that residual gas analyses are performed by engineers who have acquired specialized knowledge by using specialized instruments. We have commercialized an analyzer that can be easily used by many people involved in production.

Outline of the new residual gas analyzer

The analyzer adopts a user-oriented design in consideration of user-friendliness and prevention of wrong operation.

The main unit has an enhanced arithmetic function to allow users to obtain analysis results without using any special personal computer. The main unit also has operating switches with LEDs designed to improve visibility in dark places, such as inside manufacturing equipment, to prevent wrong operation.

The analyzer sensor is user-replaceable as a consumable item. Users do not have to send analyzers back to the manufacturer. This significantly reduces maintenance time and keeps the analyzers in the best condition for analyses.

Conventional residual gas analyzers should be periodically maintained, at least once a year, for continued use. In particular, checking and calibration of analyzer sensor performance requires cross-checking with calibration equipment at the manufacturer. Therefore, it takes several weeks to do a series of operations in a period inspection, including removal of a residual gas analyzer, sending it back to the manufacturer for calibration, and installation. Our new residual gas analyzer has a consumable, user-replaceable sensor, keeping the analyzer in the best condition for analyses. This minimizes downtime and improves the operation rate of manufacturing equipment.

HORIBA STEC proposes improvement in the operation rate of manufacturing equipment and increase in total productivity of solar panel production through our low-price residual gas analyzer.