Abound Solar to Suspend Operations
CompoundSemi News Staff
July 2, 2012...Abound Solar, a cadmium telluride thin-film solar manufacturer based in Loveland, Colorado USA, has announced that it will be filing for bankruptcy protection under U.S. Bankruptcy Code in Delaware this week. The Department of Energy granted the company a $400 million loan guarantee. Since then, the company has used $70 million of the loan guarantee to construct solar manufacturing lines in Colorado. The company also received $300 million in private investment. The company says that a suspension of operations will impact approximately 125 employees.
Earlier this year, Abound ceased production of its first generation PV module and has been working to scale up manufacturing for its high-efficiency, second generation PV module, which was tested and verified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to deliver 85 watts per panel and 12.5 percent efficiency. Abound has reportedly been in discussions with potential buyers over the last several months, but ended negotiations when the involved parties were unable to come to an agreement on terms.
"Abound Solar's closure is an unfortunate but very real consequence of the continued slide in crystalline silicon (c-Si) pricing and the increased competition for limited global demand of solar modules," said MJ Shiao, Senior Analyst at GTM Research.
GTM Research notes that c-Si module prices, which fell by nearly 50% over the course of 2011, will continue to drop, possibly reaching $0.76 per watt by the end of this year (versus $1.04 per watt in Q4 2011).
July 2, 2012...Gaas Labs, LLC, a private investment fund targeting the communications semiconductor market announced the acquisition of privately-held Nitronex Corporation, a manufacturer of gallium nitride (GaN) based RF solutions for high the defense, communications, cable TV, and industrial and scientific markets.
Headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, Nitronex is a provider of GaN-on-Silicon semiconductor solutions using its proprietary SIGANTIC(R) manufacturing process. The Nitronex process combines the superior power, efficiency and bandwidth performance of GaN with the reliability, ease of use and low-cost advantages of standard silicon substrates. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
"We are excited to add Nitronex, a leading innovator in GaN-based RF solutions, to our portfolio of RF semiconductor companies," said John Ocampo, co-founder and president of Gaas Labs. "We look forward to helping Nitronex further leverage its products and technologies and extend its RF market leadership."
GigOptix Licenses Silicon Germanium Millimeterwave Technology from IBM for High Speed E-band Wireless Solutions
CompoundSemi News Staff
July 2, 2012...GigOptix, Inc. of San Jose, California USA, a fabless supplier of semiconductor and optical components for high speed information streaming, has signed a license agreement with IBM to leverage IBM’s silicon germanium (SiGe) millimeterwave transceiver technology. IBM's SiGe technology was developed and enabled by contributions from researchers at IBM's Haifa Research Lab in Israel.
The silicon germanium technology from IBM will reportedly work with GigOptix’s growing E-band wireless solutions portfolio including its newly released advanced E-band power amplifier. The company says that leveraging IBM's expertise and many years of development experience enables GigOptix to transforming cost efficient and revolutionary integrated E-band transceiver products.
GigOptics notes that Internet traffic from mobile devices is forecasted to exceed traffic from wired devices by 2016. The company also notes that network operators are going to upgrade not only their optical networks to 40Gbps and 100Gbps links but also their wireless networks to higher capacity gigabit and multi-gigabit links to satisfy mobile users’ growing demands for data.
“We are very excited about the opportunities that IBM’s SiGe millimeterwave technology enables,” commented Andrea Betti-Berutto, senior vice president and CTO of GigOptix. “SiGe enables much lower power, smaller size and much higher levels of integration to the current gallium arsenide (GaAs) solutions in the market.”
Saint-Gobain Signs Lease on Facility in Devens, Massachusetts to Produce Sapphire Substrates for LEDs
LIGHTimes News Staff
June 28, 2012...The French company, Saint-Gobain, has signed a lease for half of the facility formerly owned by Evergreen Solar in Devens, Massachusetts USA (35 miles west of Boston). Saint-Gobain's Crystals Division plans to produce sapphire substrates for use in LEDs. The company plans to invest $31 million and create some 90 new jobs to grow the LED die. Production at the facility is expected to begin early 2013.
According to William Manley president of Calare Properties, there is no other facility in New England that can better suit the needs of high-tech manufacturers like Saint-Gobain. The facility reportedly has incomparable power, ceiling heights up to 35 feet, and a redundancy of services and systems to ensure users 100 percent uptime. Other unique features include air compressors, air abatement systems and emergency diesel generators, as well as internal water waste treatment, chemical bunkers, gas distribution, and water-cooling systems. Content continues for LIGHTimes SecondPage members...
Stion Achieves 14.8 Percent Efficiency for Monolithic CIGs Module in Production
CompoundSemi News Staff
June 25, 2012...Stion of San Jose, California , announced that the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has verified 14.8% aperture efficiency (13.4% module efficiency) for fully certified commercial copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) modules (65 cm x 165 cm) produced at its Hattiesburg, Missouri factory. The 145-watt module reportedly has the highest efficiency verified by NREL for a monolithically integrated CIGS module manufactured on a commercial production line. It exceeds the 140-watt module Stion produced on its San Jose pilot line last August.
“Reaching 14.8% efficiency on a commercial module out of our factory in MS is a significant operational and technical advancement,” said Chet Farris, Stion’s President and CEO. “We plan to continue driving our technical roadmap while maintaining our focus on capital costs and product costs.”
“This is a truly outstanding result and we congratulate Stion on its rapid progress in Hattiesburg,” said Rommel Noufi, the lead researcher for thin-film solar cells at NREL. “Achieving 14.8% efficiency using a large-area production process indicates that Stion is continuing to make significant innovations in CIGS technology that are reproducible and scalable. It speaks to the continued importance of US-made thin-film modules in helping meet the Department of Energy’s SunShot goals.”
The company's first commercial shipment rolled off it 100 megawatt production line in Hattiesburg this March.
Cree Releases New Suite of Verilog-A Non-linear Device Models for its GaN RF Devices
CompoundSemi News Staff
June 25, 2012...Cree, Inc. announced the release of a new suite of Verilog-A proprietary non-linear device models for its GaN RF devices. Verilog is an industry-standard language used to describe transistor behavior for simulation purposes. Cree developed the Verilog-A RF device models for use with leading RF design platforms from Agilent ADS and AWR Microwave Office. Cree says the new device models support more complex circuit simulations including modulation envelope analysis for use in the latest broadband and multi-mode RF power amplifiers for 4G cellular telecommunications.
“The release of this new suite of device models enables RF design engineers to predict non-linear performance using harmonic balance, conduct robust transient analysis as well as use ‘real-world’ arbitrary modulation signals with envelope simulation for Cree’s GaN HEMT devices,” said Jim Milligan, director RF and microwave, Cree. “The Verilog-A models, together with envelope simulators, allow designers to directly investigate higher efficiency circuit approaches, such as Doherty amplifiers, to improve adjacent channel power ratios, spectral re-growth and error vector magnitude, while assessing if amplifier performance meets spectral mask requirements for LTE deployments.”
“Transient analysis allows insight into switched-mode power amplifier configurations that may also be driven directly from digital signals,” said Ray Pengelly, RF business development manager, Cree. “Combined with such approaches as Chireix out-phasing, unprecedented efficiencies of greater than 70 percent have been demonstrated.”
Sandia Researchers Develop Method that May Allow Absorption of More of Solar Spectrum with Nanowires
CompoundSemi News Staff
June 25, 2012...Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico USA, announced that its scientists, Jonathan Wierer Jr. and George Wang have developed a way to ease strain along the indium shell layer grown on a phalanx of nano wires of a solar cell. This allowed them to increase the percentage of indium in the solar cell by 33 percent, thereby broadening the spectrum of light that that that a solar cell can absorb. The results were published in the journal Nanotechnology.
While increasing the percentage of indium, broadens the solar spectrum that can be collected, it also reduces the material’s ability to tolerate the strain of indium gallium nitride on a gallium nitride substrate.
The researchers used a top-down fabrication process to create the uniform height, nanowire array with vertical side walls by masking a gallium nitride (GaN) layer with a colloidal silica mask, followed by dry and wet etching. Next, shell layers containing the higher indium percentage of indium gallium nitride (InGaN) were formed on the GaN nanowire template via MOCVD. Lastly, In0.02Ga0.98N was grown so that the nanowires coalescenced. This process produced a canopy layer, facilitating simple planar processing.
This produced power conversion efficiency of a modest .3 percent. However, Wierer says they represent a promising path for future III-nitride solar cell research. The nano-architecture enables higher indium proportion in the InGaN layers and increased absorption via light scattering in the faceted InGaN canopy layer, as well as in air voids that guide light within the nanowire array.
Emcore Introduces Soliant 1000 Commercial Rooftop CPV System
CompoundSemi News Staff
June 18, 2012...Emcore Corporation of Albuquerque, New Mexico USA has released the Soliant 1000 Commercial Rooftop Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) System for pre-production orders. The multi-junction solar cell CPV system was introduced and demonstrated in Europe for the first time at Intersolar Europe, June 13-15 in the Munich Trade Fair Centre.
Emcore claims that the Soliant 1000 offers one of the highest energy production densities of available solar systems, making it a very cost-effective for commercial rooftops in regions with high Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI). Emcore says that the Soliant 1000 generates more than 500 watts peak per panel (18 watts peak per square foot), requiring approximately 28% less rooftop area than polycrystalline and approximately 38% less rooftop area than thin-film solar panels to generate 1000 megawatt hours (MWh) per year of energy output. According to Emcore, the Soliant 1000 has the lowest Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), which is the final cost to produce a kilowatt-hour of solar power.
The system combines Emcore solar cell technology with a patent-pending TipTilt Tracking™ system that tracks the sun's movement to maximize critical peak-hour energy output when utility energy is most expensive. Emcore says that the Soliant 1000 panels are low profile, lightweight, non-penetrating and come fully-assembled and ready to drop-in place. The system is designed to operate for 25 years. Production and deliveries of the systems are scheduled to commence later this year.
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