An apparatus and processes for large scale inline manufacturing of CdTe photovoltaic modules in which all steps, including rapid substrate heating, deposition of CdS, deposition of CdTe, CdCl.sub.2 treatment, and ohmic contact formation, are performed within a single vacuum boundary at modest vacuum pressures. A p+ ohmic contact region is formed by subliming a metal salt onto the CdTe layer. A back electrode is formed by way of a low cost spray process, and module scribing is performed by means of abrasive blasting or mechanical brushing through a mask. The vacuum process apparatus facilitates selective heating of substrates and films, exposure of substrates and films to vapor with minimal vapor leakage, deposition of thin films onto a substrate, and stripping thin films from a substrate. A substrate transport apparatus permits the movement of substrates into and out of vacuum during the thin film deposition processes, while preventing the collection of coatings on the substrate transport apparatus itself.
This invention was made with Government support under grants awarded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in this invention.