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According to Fatemi, the company is still supplying its terrestrial cells to a few domestic customers – “in small quantities relatively speaking” – and sending the bulk of this business to China. But as he highlights, space is where the big wins are for Emcore, now the company has stepped back from the uncertainties of the CPV solar industry.


“Space is the completely dominant market for us,” he says. “We have more than 50 percent of the US space market and around 40 percent of the global market, so our outlook [especially] in the States, depends on the satellite industry.”


And the company’s latest financial results reflect this move. Revenue for the photovoltaics business was up 13 percent to $19.6 million, from the last quarter, which chief executive Hong Hou, attributed to strong demand in space programs. Meanwhile, margins leapt 8 percent to 30.5 percent, following the sale of the lower-margin terrestrial systems lines.


Thanks to a steady stream of satellite-related projects, Hou and colleagues now expect the solar business to generate a “nice” operating profit, with revenues remaining flat, but at the current high level. So what of the future? Fatemi will not be drawn on details, saying: “We expect slight growth for the next year. I’ve been in this business for many years and every time experts predict a downturn or up-tick, it hasn’t, in my view, been very accurate.”


Still, with the company’s third generation, triple junction, 29.5 percent efficient solar cell well established - the company recently announced a $5 million contract with ATK to power the AMOS-6 telecoms satellite -


attention surely turns to the much-awaited inverted metamorphic (IMM) solar cell. As early as 2007, Compound Semiconductor reported company executives flaunting the new architecture, promising at least 33 percent efficiency and delivery by 2010. Today, Emcore predicts the cell will ship come 2016.


Flexibility and high efficiency are two of the major benefits of switching from a conventional cell design to an inverted metamorphic structure


“We hold the world record for space solar cell efficiency with this cell and are still very much focused on this architecture,” says Fatemi. “We believe we are ahead of world competition with development of the IMM cell, and our belief is we should have qualified products by 2015, and with today’s plan, these will be in production by 2016.”


March 2013 www.compoundsemiconductor.net 21


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