Aixtron and LG Electronics to Partner in GaN-on-Si Project; Azur Space Expands CPV Solar Cell Production with Aixtron MOCVD Technology
CompoundSemi News Staff
September 26, 2011...Aixtron of Aachen, Germany, announced that LG Electronics Woomyeon R&D Campus (LG Electronics Advanced Research Institute), an existing customer in South Korea, ordered one AIX G5 HT MOCVD system in a 8x6-inch wafer configuration. LGE will reportedly use the G5 system to develop GaN-on-Si Power Electronics in partnership with Aixtron.
Last week Aixtron also reported that Azur Space Solar Power GmbH began implementing its MOCVD system technology for the increased production of concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) solar cells. Aixtron indicated that its support team for Europe recently commissioned the reactor at the Azur production complex in Germany. Azur Space Solar produces several types of silicon and III-V solar cells on germanium substrates.
The contract with LGE includes a cooperative agreement to optimize LGE´s GaN/Si processes and accelerate production. LGE ordered the reactor in Q1 of 2011. Aixtron plans to deliver the reactor in the third quarter of 2011. Then its service and support team will install and commission reactor. The new reactor will add to the company’s existing Aixtron MOCVD systems at its facility in South Korea. LGE plans to develop power electronic devices for applications such as home appliances and electric vehicles. Aixtron contends that its systems are ideal for such a transition from R&D to mass production. Aixtron says the project also has the potential to spark tremendous change across the nitride industry.
NXP Introduces Very Low Power Ku-Band Downconverters for Satellite TV Receivers
CompoundSemi News Staff
September 26, 2011...NXP Semiconductors N.V. of Eindhoven, the Netherlands introduced the TFF101xHN family of integrated downconverters for use in Low Noise Block (LNB) 10.7-GHz to 12.75-GHz Ku band satellite receiver systems. The integrated down converters are designed for downlink signal reception for TV satellite dishes, NXP’s new family of DVB-S compliant downconverters consume 50-percent less current (52 mA) than other integrated solutions, significantly increasing the lifetime of the LNB and improving its reliability. The company contends that the downconverters require the lowest amount of power compared to other integrated down converters for satellite receivers.
The TFF101xHN family offers a leadless 16-pin package with a conversion gain ranging from 37 dB to 45 dB. They also offer integrated phase noise of 1.5 degrees RMS and a low noise figure of 7 dB. Additionally, NXP says that this high level of integration guarantees the stability of the local oscillator (LO), which is more reliable because the LO doe not drift over its lifetime due to temperature changes. The TFF101xHN family reportedly comes in four fully RF-tested versions with pre-set LO frequencies. The TFF101xHN family is backed by NXP’s proprietary QUBiC4 SiGe:C processes and RF intellectual property (IP).
September 26, 2011...SK TIC and SK Innovation, members of the SK Group, Korea’s energy, chemicals and telecommunications giant, and HelioVolt Corporation, a U.S. based manufacturer of CIGS thin-film photovoltaic modules, announced an agreement to collaborate on technology development and global manufacturing expansion. The SK Group has invested $50M to expand HelioVolt Austin’s manufacturing operations and has begun collaboration to develop HelioVolt’s global capabilities. Heliovolt claims to have made significant technical progress and rapid module cost reduction.
“We believe in the value of long-term investing in alternative energy and are happy to be able to leverage SK leadership across our many complementary industries in order to create an outstanding global partnership with the HelioVolt team,” said Dr. SH Park, CEO of SK TIC. “SK’s technical and engineering expertise will provide HelioVolt with tremendous market, manufacturing and supply chain access,” Dr. DS Kim, SK Innovation’s CTO, added.
III-V Terrestrial CPV technology to Grow at a CAAGR of 75 Percent, According to Strategy Analytics
CompoundSemi News Staff
September 19, 2011...Strategy Analytics reports that increasing fossil fuel prices are pushing the installation of solar photovoltaics worldwide. The Strategy Analytics Gallium Arsenide and Compound Semiconductor Technologies (GaAs) service report titled, "Terrestrial Opportunities for Compound Semiconductor Photovoltaics," forecasts that almost 200GW will be installed worldwide by 2016. The company predicts that III-V compound semiconductor-based concentrator photovoltaics (CPV) technology growing at a compound annual average growth rate of 75 percent from 2011-2016.
The terrestrial photovoltaics (PV) market is estimated to be worth over $80 billion in 2011, with conventional Si-based technology dominating roughly 82 percent of the market. Strategy Analytics predicts that the terrestrial photovoltaics market will grow with a compound average annual growth rate (CAAGR) of ten percent to reach a value of $100 billion by 2016.
"While conventional Silicon-based technologies will continue to dominate PV installations, that will decline to 74 percent by the end of 2016," Asif Anwar at Strategy Analytics predicts. "Thin film and CPV technologies will be the primary challengers to Si-based PV installations. Strategy Analytics predicts that the CPV market will grow at a faster rate than conventional PV technologies and account for almost 5 percent of new PV installations by 2016."
"Even though the performance capabilities of III-V CPV technologies are well established, deployment has been limited to date," noted Eric Higham, GaAs Service Director. "However, the III-V CPV industry has successfully established III-V CPV technologies as economical and competitive alternatives to conventional technology solutions."
Stion Reaches 14.1% Efficiency with Production Scale CIGS Circuits
CompoundSemi News Staff
September 19, 2011...Stion, a CIGS thin-film manufacturer headquartered in San Jose, California USA, announced that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has verified 14.1% efficiency for its production-scale (65 cm x 165 cm) thin-film circuits. The company says that this is the highest efficiency ever demonstrated for a monolithically integrated thin-film circuit at production scale.
The company indicated that it utilizes a monolithically integrated circuit design instead of assembling individual cells into a module for a lower bill of materials and more streamlined manufacturing process.
Rommel Noufi, the lead researcher for thin-film solar cells at NREL said, “Achieving 14.1% efficiency over a large area is indicative of the exceptional process control and uniformity delivered by Stion’s technology, and also speaks to the continued improvement potential for CIGS-based technologies to meet the DOE SunShot goal of price parity by the end of this decade.”
“Exceeding 14% efficiency at production scale represents a significant advancement for CIGS-based thin-film technologies,” said Chet Farris, Stion’s President and CEO. “Manufacturing high-efficiency, large-area CIGS modules with an inherently low cost structure and repeatable, scalable process is critical to driving the fundamental product economics.”
Stion received its UL 1703 and IEC 61646 product certifications in January and is currently shipping products manufactured at its San Jose headquarters. Stion will open its first mass production facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi USA, later this year with a first phase of 100 MW.
Raytheon's Radar Surpasses 1000 Hours of Testing with No Degradation
CompoundSemi News Staff
September 19, 2011...Raytheon of Tewksbury, Massachusetts USA reports that its transmit/receive (T/R) modules for the U.S. Navy's Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) program have passed a significant developmental testing milestone. Raytheon's gallium nitride (GaN)-based modules exceeded Navy-specified requirements for extended, measured performance. The modules demonstrated no degradation after more than 1,000 hours of testing.
The company is currently working on Phase II of the AMDR program developing a technology demonstrator for the system's S-band (2gHz-4gHz range) radar and radar suite controller. The fully scalable radar suite consists of an S-band radar, X-band radar and radar suite controller. According to Raytheon, the modules demonstrated consistent power output across multiple channels during the radio frequency operating life testing. The more than 1,000-hour test was a self-imposed early milestone for the company. The system has the unique ability to perform multiple simultaneous missions using its digital beamforming capability. This capability makes the system affordable and operationally effective for the Navy.
The company contends that AMDR provides unprecedented capabilities for the Navy, beginning with the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Raytheon says that it enables highly effective missile defenses to be deployed in a flexible manner wherever needed. "The threats that AMDR is designed to counter require leap-ahead technology that Raytheon is ready to deliver," Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems" Kevin Peppe, vice president of Seapower Capability Systems said.
Strategy Analytics Says Gallium Nitride Development Booming
CompoundSemi News Staff
September 12, 2011...Market research firm, Strategy Analytics contends that gallium nitride (GaN)-based products have been gaining acceptance in commercial markets.
The company points out that EPC, Cree, Nitronex, M/A-COM Tech, Fujitsu, Microsemi, Renesas Electronics, Toshiba and Integra Technologies have announced new GaN-based products.
“Based on product announcements and company displays at the recently concluded International Microwave Symposium trade show in Baltimore, it is clear that GaN is really gaining a foothold in the compound semiconductor market,” noted Eric Higham, Director of the Strategy Analytics GaAs and Compound Semiconductor Technologies Service. “Manufacturers are finding that the superior power handling and “green” capabilities of GaN technology enable them to develop some compelling products.”
Asif Anwar, Director, Strategy Analytics Strategic Technologies Practice added, “GaN products have been used in defense products for some time. They are now gaining acceptance in commercial wireless infrastructure, CATV, satellite and power electronics markets.”
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Commentary & Perspective...
Aixtron shares their view on the 'state of the industry'
Tom Griffiths - Publisher
September 26, 2011...In a special feature commentary, we caught up with MOCVD manufacturer Aixtron,
and their Director of Marketing, Rainer Beccard. Rainer has been through the
highs and lows of the compoundsemi and LED markets, and we asked a few questions
of him to catch a sense of Aixtron's take on the state of the LED industry.
CS/LT: There's a lot to be excited about in the LED market, especially given
the rapid move to LED backlighting in televisions, and solid state lighting
really beginning to take off. From the perspective of the epitaxial equipment
provider, what are the key things that Aixtron is focusing on to increase the
overall market for LEDs?
It looks very much like LEDs for general lighting
purposes have reached some initial performance targets in terms of brightness
and lumens per watt, allowing manufacturers to introduce LED replacement lamps
that can compete with incandescent and even fluorescent lamps for the first
time. However, prices are still too high. Thus the focus is clearly on reducing
the LED manufacturing cost and increasing the productivity of MOCVD processes.
To achieve this, we have done some comprehensive analysis of Total Cost of Ownership
(TCO), and came to the result that under the current circumstances, throughput
and wafer capacity of a reactor are the most relevant parameters to improve
this. Thus we have introduced a larger version of our CRIUS II reactor, called
CRIUS II-L. Besides its capacity (69x2" or 16x4", which is the world's
largest one), it comes with excellent uniformity and yield, improved MO and
gas utilization efficiency and sophisticated in situ devices. This makes sure
that not only cost per wafer, but also cost per chip can be significantly improved.
CS/LT: How much can "doing those items
correctly" affect the "trajectory" of their respective market
This is difficult to be quantified. Clearly
the epitaxy contributes only to a part of the LED cost, and looking at the final
luminaire, there are again significant cost arising from non-LED components
like thermal assembly, drivers and optics. However there is a clear cost down
roadmap in place, for example defined recently by the US Department of Energy,
setting a target of a 90% cost reduction within 10 years. This definitely has
to be met, if not even surpassed, and MOCVD has to provide its contribution
CS/LT: China has been working hard to build up its LED infrastructure...
Do you see another big burst coming there in the next few years as a result
of any near-term equipment innovations?
There are several factors influencing the impressive
growth of the Chinese LED industry - governmental support, increasing domestic
demand or the ability to recruit the required amounts of skilled LED specialists.
Equipment and its performance is another critical factor; however it is hard
to say whether there will be a disruptive or more an evolutionary type of innovation.
We will continue to support all our customers, providing them with the technology
they need to meet their targets.
CS/LT: What has Aixtron found to be necessary to properly support the Chinese
market? What kinds of sales, manufacturing or training have you had to put in
There is a lot we have done, and there is
even more to come. AIXTRON has started many years ago to support Chinese research
institutes and scientists, as we felt that it is not sufficient to just sell
MOCVD reactors. Target was to help the academic community to gain expertise
in compound semiconductors, in MOCVD and, at a later stage, in transferring
the R&D results into a production environment as they began early mass production
of LED wafers. This model was quite successful and we continue to run it today.
However, the focus has somewhat shifted; today the Chinese LED industry is evolving
from the very early stages of development, a very high technological level does
exist in many places and some LED manufacturers have positioned themselves well
in the international market place. However, due to the rapid growth of this
industry, bottlenecks are increasingly becoming evident, so are specialists
with a specific skill set missing in many cases. As a consequence, we have decided
to team up with SINANO, a research institute of the Chinese Academy of Science
and to set up an application and training facility in SuZhou, China. We will
be able to provide training on various levels, exactly meeting the requirements
of the Chinese LED industry. This will strongly help to address the shortage
of skilled MOCVD experts.
CS/LT: Do you feel any specific message or opportunity generated at the
equipment level is being missed at the LED manufacturing level?
I think people are quite aware of the opportunities
related to the equipment. We would love to see a faster conversion to large
wafers, such as 6 inch, as we know how much the productivity can be increased
this way, and we have all 6" technology and processes available for quite
some time. We also feel that the opportunities related to fab integration are
not fully exploited yet. AIXTRON has provided triple-digit quantities of MES
interfaces to specific customers, and those customers enjoy the benefits of
improved reliability, reproducibility and controllability, finally resulting
in improved chip yields. However, other customers have not gone this path yet,
which means there is quite some potential for more cost efficient production
CS/LT: Do you feel there is anything the LED manufacturers need to be careful
of in order to avoid slowing the overall market progress?
A ramp-up as fast as the one we currently
see in the LED industry has to be managed carefully. It is most important that
not just the required quantities of MOCVD tools are installed. At the same time,
the complex infrastructure required to operate those tools needs to be in place,
so a stable supply chain for raw materials, wafers, chemicals, and such, has
to be established and human resources have to be available. Making sure that
none of these requirements is neglected is clearly a challenge.
CS/LT: Do application-specific needs travel back down the supply chain to
the epitaxy equipment level, and if so, can you give some examples of what those
have been and how Aixtron has responded?
This is less of an issue. AIXTRON's epitaxy
equipment is quite versatile, which means that all processes that are relevant
today can be run on similar equipment, plus all wafer sizes. Having introduced
our platform based reactor concept, we enabled customers to choose between different
reactor technologies on the same platform, increasing our customers' flexibility
and reducing complexity in the operation of the system. Actually flexibility
is one of the key design criteria for our reactors making sure they can cover
all foreseeable applications without any interference.
If you have news or
views to share about the compound semiconductor, LED or solid
state lighting industries
contact our Publisher, Tom Griffiths
His direct tel in Austin is +1-512-257-9888