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RFMD Expands Portfolio with Commercial Solar Cells

The firm claims it has achieved milestones that integrate GaAs and InGaP PV junctions using its standard six-inch semiconductor equipment.


RF Micro Devices, a designer and manufacturer of high-performance RF components and compound semiconductor technologies has successfully achieved another significant performance milestone related to the commercialisation of high-performance photovoltaic (PV) cells.


The firm has fabricated dual-junction PV cells that integrate GaAs and InGaP PV junctions using its 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 characterise the cellular handset market."


In 2009, RFMD announced it had entered into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for the purpose of developing a production capable process technology for high-performance PV cells.


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 %, and continued substantial improvements in efficiency are anticipated.


RFMD's dual-junction achievement was realised using the Company's existing manufacturing capabilities and robust supply chain, which are optimised for high volume, low cost, reliability and performance. The conversion efficiency achieved across RFMD's six-inch wafers was claimed to be 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.
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