Photovoltaic energy conversion devices are on a rapidly accelerating growth path driven by increasing government and
societal pressure to use renewable energy as part of an overall strategy to address global warming attributed to
greenhouse gas emissions. Initially supported in several countries by generous tax subsidies, solar cell manufacturers
are relentlessly pushing the performance/cost ratio of these devices in a quest to reach true cost parity with grid
electricity. Clearly this eventual goal will result in further acceleration in the overall market growth. Silicon wafer
based solar cells are currently the mainstay of solar end-user installations with a cost up to three times grid electricity.
But next-generation technology in the form of thin-film devices promises streamlined, high-volume manufacturing and
greatly reduced silicon consumption, resulting in dramatically lower per unit fabrication costs. Notwithstanding the
modest conversion efficiency of thin-film devices compared to wafered silicon products (around 6-10% versus 15-20%), this cost reduction is driving existing and start-up solar manufacturers to switch to thin-film production. A key
aspect of these devices is patterning large panels to create a monolithic array of series-interconnected cells to form a low
current, high voltage module. This patterning is accomplished in three critical scribing processes called P1, P2, and P3.
Lasers are the technology of choice for these processes, delivering the desired combination of high throughput and
narrow, clean scribes. This paper examines these processes and discusses the optimization of industrial lasers to meet
their specific needs.