GREENSBORO, USA: RF Micro Devices Inc., a global leader in the design and manufacture of high-performance radio frequency components and compound semiconductor technologies, announced that it has successfully achieved another significant performance milestone related to the commercialization of high-performance photovoltaic (PV) cells.
Specifically, RFMD has fabricated dual-junction PV cells that integrate gallium arsenide (GaAs) and indium gallium phosphide (InGaP) PV junctions using the Company's standard six-inch semiconductor equipment. The successful fabrication of the dual-junction PV cells clears the way for RFMD to develop triple-junction structures, with the ultimate goal of developing a commercially viable and high volume-capable compound semiconductor-based process for high-performance PV cells.
Bob Bruggeworth, president and CEO of RFMD, said: "RFMD is very pleased with the world-class performance of our dual-junction cells. With this achievement, RFMD is demonstrating we possess the critical technologies to produce a low-cost PV product with competitive solar cell conversion efficiency, supported by the quality, reliability, and volumes that characterize the cellular handset market."
In 2009, RFMD announced it had entered into a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for the purpose of developing a production capable process technology for high-performance PV cells. NREL has decades of research experience and expertise in PV cell technology, and RFMD is a pioneer and industry leader in compound semiconductor manufacturing with a proven ability to commercialize new technologies.
The dual-junction achievement and associated performance characteristics are consistent with results achieved by NREL in their development of Inverted Metamorphic Multi-Junction (IMM) technology. NREL's technology has demonstrated one of the world's highest reported solar cell conversion efficiencies, at 40.8 percent, and continued substantial improvements in efficiency are anticipated.
RFMD's dual-junction achievement was realized using the Company's existing manufacturing capabilities and robust supply chain, which are optimized for high volume, low cost, reliability and performance. The conversion efficiency achieved across RFMD's six-inch wafers was exceptionally uniform, enabling high device yields and tight distributions in CPV product performance.
RFMD's development efforts related to a compound semiconductor-based process for PV cells are broadly applicable across technologies, including IMM as well as conventional triple-junction Germanium-based CPV devices. RFMD anticipates multiple opportunities related to PV cells and is engaged with CPV system integrators and solar cell module manufacturers.