addressing the energy crisis with research into new semiconducting materials

Solar cell fabrication and characterization laboratory

A custom-designed facility with numerous innovations in glovebox technology and thin-film deposition equipment design, the solar cell fabrication and characterization laboratory at Mount Holyoke College offers students the opportunity to conduct the type of cutting-edge research that is typically reserved for graduate students at top tier research universities.


Laboratory layout

Two of the principle design elements of the laboratory are convenience and ease-of-use.  An interconnected set of three glovebox units is placed in the center of the lab, providing the essential device fabrication and characterization functionality.  The centrally located equipment layout and seamless fabrication protocols allow students to focus their attention on learning and applying their own creativity.

Three-glovebox setup

The heart of the laboratory consists of three interconnected gloveboxes.  The three gloveboxes are located at the center of the lab in a U shaped configuration, with the glovebox windows and gloves facing outward.  The U configuration compliments the geometry of the room and permits easy access from any location in the lab.

Thin-film deposition chambers

Designed for simplicity and ease-of-use, the modified “torpedo” deposition chambers are mounted beneath the dry deposition glovebox floor.  The chamber design is unique in its compact size, retractible base plate elevator system, side-mounted substrate rotation drive, easy top-loading substrate access and easy-to-clean internal sleeve design.  The result is a low-cost system with fast pump down times, convenient substrate loading from within the glovebox, convenient source material loading from outside the glovebox and painless cleaning procedures.  The side-mounted substrate rotation drive frees up space within the glovebox for other activities.

LC Technology gloveboxes

Working closely with LC Technology Solutions Inc., the lab’s gloveboxes were designed and outfitted with a number of innovative features, including LED lighting, vented three-way miniature antechambers and centralized vacuum.  The wet deposition glovebox contains an integrated miniature freezer, centrifuge and spin coater for quantum dot and polymer film deposition.  The dry deposition glovebox contains an integrated thermal evaporation system and floor/sidewall mounts for additional deposition systems and chambers.  The characterization glovebox holds an optical table directly beneath the glovebox floor, and contains electrical, fiber-optic and viewport feedthough ports mounted on the glovebox floor for easy access.  Both the wet and dry deposition gloveboxes have low-profile HEPA filters, allowing for cleanroom-level particle counts within the gloveboxes.

Overhead supply drops

To reduce noise and congestion inside the lab, the chiller, roughing pump and backing pump are located in a chase adjacent to the lab space.  Overhead supply lines bring centralized roughing vacuum, backing vacuum, and chilled water into the lab.  Exhaust ventilation and electricals are also mounted on the ceiling.  The noise level within the lab is notably quite, and equipment maintenance can be accomplished easily and out of the way of experimentation setups.