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RFMD, NREL partner to commercialize high-performance photovoltaic cells

nrelsolarRF Micro Devices, Inc. has entered into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop a high-volume commercial compound semiconductor-based process for high-performance photovoltaic (PV) cells.

Under the terms of a Cooperative Research And Development Agreement (CRADA), the partnership will leverage NREL’s subject matter knowledge and innovation experience with RFMD’s technical expertise in volume manufacturing of high-performance, reliability-proven compound semiconductors at RFMD’s wafer fab.

The CRADA consists of three phases.

  • A foundation phase that will establish the capability to manufacture basic PV cells at RFMD’s manufacturing facilities
  • A technology demonstration phase during which PV cells using NREL’s technology will be fabricated at RFMD’s manufacturing facilities
  • A production readiness phase during which the manufacturing of high performance PV cells with high yields, high reliability, high reproducibility and low cost at RFMD’s fabs will be established.

The successful execution of the multi-year CRADA is expected to result in the production of PV cells in RFMD’s high-volume compound semiconductor fabs, as early as 2012, using technology that is capable of best-in-class solar cell conversion efficiency. NREL’s technology has demonstrated one of the world’s highest reported solar cell conversion efficiencies, at 40.8 percent. Continued substantial improvements in efficiency are anticipated by the companies.

“Working with RFMD to commercialize PV cells will help us realize our laboratory’s mission of developing and commercializing advanced, next-generation energy technologies,” said NREL director Dan Arvizu, in a statement.

During the CRADA, technical representatives from both RFMD and NREL will collaborate at NREL and in RFMD’s facilities in Greensboro, North Carolina.