News Article

Russian Firm To Mass-produce III-V Solar Cells

Aixtron receives an order for the first MOCVD reactor to be used for mass-production of solar cells in Russia.

Saturn JSC, a Russian company that supplies photovoltaic systems for satellite applications, is to mass-produce GaAs-based solar cells for the first time.

The Krasnodor-based company, which has just ordered an AIX 2600G3 MOCVD reactor from German equipment vendor Aixtron, says that its new solar cell manufacturing program requires a production system that can be quickly established.

Although Aixtron has supplied many MOCVD reactors to Russian customers previously, the sale of this 8 x 4-inch system is the first for volume solar cell manufacture.

Aixtron's Bernd Schulte, the company's executive VP and COO of its compound semiconductor unit, said, "Other institutes have invested in our systems for research and development of materials for satellite solar cells. [But] the Saturn JSC order is the first volume commercial MOCVD equipment in Russia with the capability for solar-cell production."

According to Aixtron, Saturn JSC is well established as a major supplier to both the Russian space program and international projects, having equipped more than 1000 spacecraft with solar power and storage battery systems.

After a long downturn, the market for triple-junction solar cells now appears to be picking up steam. Boeing recently won a deal to supply three huge communications satellites, all of which will be powered by GaAs-based technology (see related story), while the Chinese government is also driving demand for germanium substrates and epitaxial equipment with its own aggressive satellite program.

And while terrestrial deployment of III-V concentrator cells is still in its infancy, Emcore is gearing up to supply these products for three separate commercial programs this year.

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