By Finlay Colville, Coherent, Inc.
As solar cell and panel manufacturers emerge from the credit crisis, new process tools are set to enter production lines for increased module efficiency. This market-driven pull demands improved laser-based process tools and a broader range of laser types than used historically by the solar industry. Final laser source selection depends ultimately on a range of different factors being satisfied. This article explains the fundamental drivers that form the basis of laser source adoption within the solar industry. Where is the "pull"? What are the timescales involved? Why have certain laser sources been prioritized within production lines to date? And what are the trends that are most likely to change the equipment-type landscape during the next 10 years?