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Bringing New Efficiencies to Photovoltaics

SmartTrak® 100 Mass Flow Controller

Solar photovoltaic installations now generate power in more than 100 countries and continue to be the fastest-growing type of electricity generation in the world. Due to the growing demand for renewable energy sources, manufacturing of solar cells andPhotovoltaic Panelsphotovoltaic arrays have advanced dramatically in recent years.

Physical vapor deposition (PVD) or sputtering is commonly used for creating the films used to construct photovoltaic panels. Maintaining a precise gas mass flow rate to the vacuum chamber is critical during the PVD process. Since there is so little pressure drop to work with, PVD processes require flow control devices that are relatively insensitive to the absolute pressure in the chamber. This rules out differential pressure (dP) devices like orifice plates that require a large pressure differential to operate efficiently.


With an installed base of 100,000 instruments worldwide, Sierra’s SmartTrak® 100 with Compod™ are also bringing precise measurement to the PVD process.

Unlike traditional differential pressure (dP) devices, Sierra's SmartTrak 100 with Compod™ operates accurately in the high vacuum PVD environment, automatically compensating for changes in system pressure (vacuum pump fluctuations) or loss of pressure from the gas source (cylinder depletion). Since the layers deposited by PVD processes can, in many cases, be only molecules thick, very precise delivery methods of the doping gases are required. Inaccuracies in gas measurement in this doping process can account for thousands of dollars in lost product and increased gas costs due to inefficiencies.

The SmartTrak 100 with Compod, with its Laminar Flow Element and proprietary frictionless-hovering control valve, delivers a precisely controlled gas mass flow rate to the vacuum chamber to increase gas delivery efficiency and ensure a quality product.

Here’s what makes Sierra’s SmartTrak 100 with Compod an ideal choice:
  • Reduced capital equipment and installation costs by automating complex gas process with the Compod™– no need for external PLCs or computers
  • With a Compod™, SmartTrak® 100 becomes a fully network-enabled multi-drop
    RS-485 / Modbus RTU device
  • Daisy-chain multiple MFC’s on a single network, then send and receive data, alarms and commands or perform remote diagnostics and data logging
  • Inherently linear Laminar Flow Element provides accuracy of +/- 1% of full scale which improves product quality