Micro-Epsilon UK Ltd. - PRODUCT NEWS

Confocal displacement sensors measure gaps in multi-layer PV solar modules

High precision, confocal displacement sensors from Micro-Epsilon are being used to accurately measure the thickness of multi-layer photovoltaic (PV) solar modules. From one side, the sensors are able to measure the thickness of intermediate layers through the anti-reflective glass, including the air gap between the two glass panes.

To date, the production of photovoltaic (PV) modules has been a very complex, cost-intensive process. However, French company Apollon Solar has developed a new process for the production of PV modules. These systems are manufactured at French line constructor, Vincent Industrie.

The patented NICE (New Industrial Cell Encapsulation) process, the solar modules are no longer fused with a transparent plastic layer. By using the NICE process, the sealing and leak integrity of the module compound and the long term stability are significantly improved compared to conventional PV modules.

During production of the NICE modules, a metal plate forms the rear side. The solar cells are arranged on this plate and electrically connected to each other. Next, spacers are applied as a cover, which prevents contact between the solar cells and the glass pane. A special purpose system then presses the glass pane onto the PV module, evacuating it whilst doing so. After pressing, the PV module is permanently held together by the vacuum in the module and the external atmospheric pressure. The glass used is a special, anti-reflective type that allows light to pass through but prevents the light from reflecting.

Consistent spacing of the front and rear sides is critical during the pressing process. Sensors from Micro-Epsilon's confocalDT range of confocal chromatic displacement & thickness measurement systems are used here. Integrated in the press, these sensors measure the gap at several positions from one side, between the front and rear side of the PV modules. These gaps are between 0.7 and 2.0mm. Due to its extremely high light intensity, the confocalDT 2402 sensor is able to obtain sufficiently large reflections despite the anti-reflective coating on the glass. Using special, multi-peak software, the sensors are able to accurately measure the thickness of intermediate layers through glass, including the air gap between the two glass panes.

The confocalDT series is a new generation of confocal chromatic measuring solutions from Micro-Epsilon. The system includes the fastest controller currently available in the world. The confocalDT produces highly accurate results for distance and displacement measurements, as well as for measuring the thickness of transparent objects. A large selection of sensors, interfaces, and simplified, web browser-based operation provide huge potential for applications in semiconductor manufacturing, solar panel and glass production, medical devices and plastics processing.

This unique measuring principle enables high precision distance and displacement measurement, both for diffuse and reflecting surfaces. In addition, thickness measurements can be carried out for transparent measuring objects. The web browser interface provides an extensive materials database, which can be individually edited and extended. Up to six peaks can be evaluated to facilitate measuring multi-layer objects.
The new controller offers an excellent signal/noise ratio for high precision measurements. Rapid surface compensation helps to control illumination cycles for achieving high signal stability.

The confocalDT confocal measuring system consists of a controller and sensor, which are linked through a Fibre Optic cable. The controller has an internal LED light source which is capable of measurement speeds up to 10 kHz. For faster measurements, an external Xenon light source is used. This is a separate, compact light source that sits alongside the controller enabling measurement speeds up to 70 kHz. The controller is easily configured via a web interface. The sensor range includes IFS 2400/2401 standard sensors, the unique IFS 2402 miniature sensors, and the IFS 2403 series of hybrid sensors.

Micro-Epsilon (www.micro-epsilon.co.uk) is a major global manufacturer of sensors, headquartered in Germany. The company’s range of displacement sensors measure everything from to distance, position, vibration, dimensions and thickness, using both contact and non-contact measurement techniques. These techniques include 1D, 2D and even 3D laser-optical sensors and systems, eddy-current, capacitive, LVDT & inductive, potentiometric and draw-wire principles. Additionally Micro Epsilon has developed its own range of non-contact infrared temperature sensors that can measure virtually any target temperature from -40 to +3,300°C.

With more than 35 years’ experience in the industry, Micro-Epsilon isn’t just a sensor manufacturer. The company is highly innovative and understands the importance of providing complete solutions and support services for its customers. The firm is renowned for its expertise in consulting, development and application of industrial sensors to complex, customer-specific solutions for measurement, inspection and automation. The focus is on selling technical advantage to its customers.

For sales and technical information contact:-

Chris Jones
Micro-Epsilon UK Ltd.
Telephone: +44(0)151 355 6070
Fax: +44(0)151 355 6075

September 2012

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