GT Advanced Technologies' Patented Solar Beast 'Hyperion' Is Commercially Available

Aug. 1.14 | About: GT Advanced (GTATQ)

Summary

GTAT has patented the world's only commercially available technology for high-volume production of ultra-thin monocrystalline silicon wafers.

These wafers will be used to produce the thinnest-ever high-efficiency monocrystalline solar cells.

GTAT's new patent gives it claims on the only commercially available technology capable of producing 20 micron layers of monocrystalline silicon in bulk.

Originally published to PTT Forensics subscribers on 7/2/14

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November 2012: GTAT Acquires Hyperion Technology via Twin Creeks

GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT) acquired Twin Creeks Technology in November 2012 for $10m. Twin Creeks' biggest asset was Hyperion, an ion implanter technology that can exfoliate thin layers of silicon, silicon carbide, sapphire, germanium and other crystalline substrates. On April 30th 2014, GTAT announced that it would be expanding its portfolio of sapphire and silicon carbide (SiC) solutions for next-generation consumer and industrial products.

"Hyperion's unique ion source and beamline design will enable a wide range of exfoliation applications in markets where thin silicon, silicon carbide, sapphire, germanium and other crystalline material substrates can enable breakthroughs in performance and cost," said Vikram Singh, executive vice president of advanced systems development. "Hyperion will enable the production of high throughput and optimum thickness substrates that can not be achieved with other ion implant technologies."

GTAT's Solar Beast: Hyperion and the Production of Ultra-thin solar cells

I recently introduced readers to Boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) cancer treatment as a promising application of Hyperion technology. This week I want to bring you back to Hyperion's original purpose: ultra-thin solar cells. Twin Creeks created Hyperion 3 before GTAT bought them out. According to GTAT's March 2014 Technology Update, it took over 200 man-years to develop. GTAT has pushed the envelope even further with Hyperion 4, which is now ready to be commercialized across several exciting market places including cancer treatment and the production of solar cells and sapphire composites for mobile and point-of-sale (POS) devices.

The Hyperion 3 was designed for the production of ultra-thin monocrystalline silicon wafers, from which solar cells are made. According to Twin Creeks' former CEO, Siva Sivaram, the idea of using an ion beam to exfoliate silicon wafers was not unfamiliar prior to Hyperion, but it was impractical. It required a particle accelerator that could produce ion beams of both very high current and very high energy, and "such a beast did not exist." To make the technology viable, Twin Creeks developed an ion accelerator that was "10 times more powerful" than those commercially available at the time. Sivaram also indicated that Hyperion reduces the amount of silicon needed by 90 percent and also reduces capital costs. He also said that Hyperion technology can be added to existing production lines.

GTAT's Solar Beast "Hyperion" is Officially Ready for Solar "Prime Time"

I've been aware of GTAT's Hyperion Technology for quite some time. Consider this 2-year-old video from Twin Creeks' lab demonstrating the power of Hyperion 3 to produce ultra-thin solar cells. Based on the video and Sivaram's comments, I thought Hyperion 3 was ready for commercialization. Now that I understand how much time and effort GTAT has put into improving Hyperion, I believe Hyperion is ready for solar "prime time".

According to the latest Hyperion patent, GTAT modified the original process in order to commercialize it for bulk production of ultra-thin silicon wafers. Solar cells from these wafers will be as thin as 20 microns. In January of 2014, GTAT applied for a new patent that replaced the very generic substrate claims of the previous patent with very specific claims related specifically to ultra-thin silicon. The patent was granted on May 16th, just 6 weeks ago.

Excerpt of "New" Patented Claims

24. Ion implant apparatus as claimed in claim 21, wherein said final beam path has a total ion drift distance which is less than a diameter of said periphery of said rotary scan assembly.

25. Ion implant apparatus as claimed in claim 21, wherein said planar substrates comprise a crystalline semiconductor material.

26. Ion implant apparatus as claimed in claim 25, wherein said crystalline semiconductor material is silicon.

27. Ion implant apparatus as claimed in claim 21, wherein said beam of ions for implantation comprises H+ ions.

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Key Takeaways

  • GTAT has patented the world's only commercially available technology for high-volume production of ultra-thin monocrystalline silicon wafers.
  • These wafers will be used to produce the thinnest-ever high-efficiency monocrystalline solar cells.

Conclusion - GTAT's Hyperion 4 Technology is a Solar BEAST

GTAT's brilliant solar strategy is gaining momentum every day. GTAT has developed and patented technologies that will drive incredible cost savings in solar energy generation. GTAT's leading technologies touch 3 key stages of monocrystalline solar cell production: Production (HiCz™), Finishing (Hyperion exfoliation) and Module Design (Merlin).

GTAT's Hyperion technology is a BEAST! Hyperion is 10 times more powerful than any other commercially available accelerator. GTAT's new patent gives it claims on the only commercially available technology capable of producing 20 micron layers of monocrystalline silicon in bulk! And by the way, it can be used to treat cancer!

How long before the rest of the world realizes that GTAT's Hyperion technology is for real and ready to take the world by storm?

I am currently modeling Hyperion sales of $100m in 2015 and $800m in 2016 with a 45% gross margin. I expect Hyperion to contribute $0.18 in EPS in 2014 and $1.45 in 2016. I believe GTAT's Hyperion business ALONE is currently worth $24 per share, or $3.6 billion in market cap, based on my enterprise forward P/E of 16.62 times my FY 2016 EPS estimates. GT's Hyperion line of business accounts for 27% of my enterprise valuation of $87.50 per share.

Tom Gutierrez (GTAT CEO) 2/28/13 During Q4 2012 Q&A

"And quite honestly, I don't see anybody that's anywhere near competing with us right now, on next-generation technologies that we're developing. The Hyperion, nobody's got that."

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Source: GTAT's Patented Solar Beast "Hyperion" is Commercially Available

Disclosure: The author is long GTAT. The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it. The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: This article was originally published on Monday, July 2nd to PTT Research Forensics Paying Subscribers.

Disclosure: The author is long GTAT. The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it. The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.