Low-Temp Thin Film Production with Laser Doping
Written by Sandra Henderson 19 December 2013
US thin-film technology company Natcore Technology is developing new solar cell processes and structures that will allow them to rapidly and inexpensively manufacture high-performance silicon solar cells at low temperatures, without vacuum equipment and with only a few process steps. The process involves texturing the wafers to form a black silicon antireflection surface, passivating the silicon surface and using laser doping to form localised emitter and base contacts.
“We are investigating silicon solar cell structures with localised laser-doped contacts on both the front and rear surfaces as well as device structures with all contacts on the rear surface,” reports Dr David Carlson, a member of Natcore’s Science Advisory board. The company’s black silicon process can be used on the front surfaces of both types of device structures to produce an antireflection surface.
On account of Carlson, Natcore’s novel laser process “utilises a nanosecond green fibre laser where the laser pulse is shaped as a function of time allowing us to optimise the doping profiles.” Laser doping is a process that uses the energy in a laser beam to rapidly form a localised contact to a solar cell at room temperature. An ink or paste containing a dopant such as phosphorus is deposited on a passivated silicon wafer, and the laser beam locally melts both the dopant source and the silicon to form a doped contact in less than a millionth of a second.
“Conventional solar cells are processed at high temperatures (greater than 800 degrees Celsius) for several minutes to form the doped contacts, and antireflection layers are deposited using expensive vacuum equipment,” says Carlson, illustrating the benefits of the laser doping process, compared with previous manufacturing techniques. By contrast, Natcore’s new laser doping process can be performed in about 1 second per silicon wafer at room temperature in air. What is more, “Our solar cell processing can be performed with relatively inexpensive equipment in a much smaller manufacturing plant than that required for conventional solar cells.”
Natcore’s technological advance could prove promising for the future of thin-film solar cells. Laser processing can be used to process very thin silicon wafers or even thin silicon films at low cost, since it is a room temperature process that can be performed in air without physically contacting the wafer. “Thus, we are able to handle very thin fragile wafers or films without breakage,” Carlson says.
Solar Novus Today previously reported on Natcore’s record-breaking black silicon solar wafers. Now, Carlson elaborates on how this new laser doping process will integrate with the company’s black silicon materials: “Black silicon allows us to make a high quality textured front surface, which is an excellent low-cost antireflection layer,” the expert says. “Laser doping allows us to make localised contacts to the black silicon surface, and also allows us to make a low-cost, high performance, back-contact solar cell by using black silicon on the front surface with localised laser-doped contacts on the rear.”
Natcore is poised to take the novel laser doping process into the real world, according to their representative: “We believe that we have all the technology required to develop a commercial product within the next two years and may be able to accelerate this process with the appropriate partner,” Carlson says, adding in conclusion that his company is “now positioned to play a major role in the development of the US PV industry and will continue to develop new technologies to assure our success.”
Written by Sandra Henderson, Research Editor Solar Novus Today
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Shares of OPKO Health (OPK) continued their plunge on December 13. During the day, the company's share price fell more than 10% as investors sold off the name due to a negatively-detailed report released by Lakewood Capital. OPKO Health is a development-stage company actively engaged in the discovery and development of novel pharmaceutical and diagnostics technologies.
Over the past 5 days alone, OPKO has fallen over 22% as investors remained hesitant of what to make of the 46-page report. Yet despite the substantial decline, one investor continuing to buy remains the company's CEO himself. Dr. Phillip Frost significantly increased his purchases on December 11 following the release of Lakewood's coordinated attack which was paired with its article found here.
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OPK data by YCharts
Detailed, But Accurate?
While Lakewood's report raises a number of inflammatory accusations, the question remains whether the accuracy is found in the details or the rationale behind the points raised. For the casual reader, the large amount of references made by Lakewood appear damning upon first glance. However a more intricate look at some of the points raised spark questions themselves.
For example, in one instance Lakewood attacks Frost's character by looking at his role in Protalix BioTherapeutics (PLX). In the report, Lakewood noted that Frost was associated with a stock which had "$2.07 billion in market value" wiped out by raising $50 million in a capital raise at $5/share. While technically accurate, the story itself fails to correctly assess the situation.
Protalix had undergone a 1:10 reverse split in the months prior and the average daily trading volume had been reduced to less than 10,000 shares a day. As for Frost himself, his options (originally in Orthodontix) were exercised at $1.38/share. He then continued to buy shares in Protalix in March 2008 and October 2008. Frost ultimately began to exit his position in 2009. His last recorded transaction was for a price of $7.47, recording a gain of more than 400%. At that time, he still owned 7.6 million shares of Protalix.
Lakewood's report continues to add numerous facts that fail to represent the correct situation. Asserting that the company was obsessed with its stock price, Lakewood points out a "bizarre press release" issued on February 8 explaining a recent stock sale. While factual, the details neglects the context. The press release was due to the fact that another detailed bearish report had placed the issue front and center into an assault on OPKO.
The capital management firm even attempts to portray Dr. Frost's insider purchases as an expression of bearish sentiment. The report states that Dr. Frost is buying because he is "pot committed" and that he has no rational reason to buy shares every day. Yet to this, I would assert that Dr. Frost has a very important reason. As I wrote in my article found here, Frost is able to multiply the effect of his purchasing power by utilizing OPKO as a public entity.
Such bearish assertions continue to permeate throughout the report. While negatively biased and questionably spun, the report does appear to stretch for conclusions. Lakewood states the following: "It is our belief that OPKO will never report a profit, which would render an ultimate price for the stock of $0 per share."
The Show Must Go On
Regardless of whether or not Lakewood's prediction comes to pass, the one fact that remains is that Frost continues aggressively support OPKO's share price. On December 11, Frost purchased 72,500 shares for $722,759. On December 12, he purchased another 50,000 shares for $472,196. As seen in the transaction table found below, this marks a significant uptick in his latest buying.
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Is Frost communicating to shareholders through his insider purchases? There can be little doubt about this. Frost has utilized the rising share price to leverage his ability to piece together a company filled with long-term potential. The strong price support has allowed for OPKO to make numerous acquisitions through cost-effective means. Frost's near-daily purchases of OPKO have significantly strengthened the company's price support. In turn, the strong share price was utilized to consolidate larger holdings under the wings of OPKO as seen in the chart found below.
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OPK data by YCharts
Based on the latest Form 4 filed here, Frost now controls 152,817,205 shares of OPKO common stock. Based on 408 million shares outstanding, this represents a full 37% ownership in OPKO Health. Above all, Frost's holdings in OPKO represent a total worth of $1.28 billion. Far from being a "daily trading vehicle" as Lakewood's report might suggest, OPKO represents over 40% of the billionaire's fortune based on his estimated net worth.
A Short Target
One factor that should continue to weigh on the minds of investors is the heavy ongoing short interest now plaguing OPKO Health. As of November 29, OPKO Health had a short interest of 40.85 million shares. This represents over 26% of the share float available on the public market. This remains particularly interesting given the aggressive buying by the CEO. Such artificial selling pressure will ultimately have to be reconciled as short sellers take profits or cover.
Additionally, there are numerous catalysts which could further provoke a sudden reversal in trading direction. CEO purchasing power aside, the company also has a long list of products at various stages of the pipeline which could produce positive developments. Four of these products are already in Phase 3 clinical trials. OPKO's product, Rolapitant, is already expecting its Phase 3 results between Q4 2013 and Q1 2014.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Israeli biotechnology stocks have been experiencing a comeback this year, with the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s TA-Biomed index advancing 25%, easily outpacing the 15% gain by the blue-chip TA-25 index.
The biomed index encompasses 22 publicly traded companies engaged in life sciences research and development with a median market value of 250 million shekels ($71.1 million), making them minnows even by TASE standards. But six of the companies are valued at over 1 billion shekels, and the largest, Opko Health, in which Philip Frost, chairman of Teva Pharmaceuticals, owns a controlling stake, is worth 15 billion shekels.
Biomed is a high-risk investment. Their prices will jump in response to any significant milestone, such as the registration of a patent, success in a clinical trial, gaining regulatory approval to sell a drug, a new collaboration with a major drug company or inclusion of the drug in the basket provided by medical insurer.
On the other hand, a clinical trial failure or breakdown in talks over a global marketing venture could lead to the stock’s collapse. At the end of the day, it is an all-or-nothing investment: Either the company achieves tremendous success or the trials fail and it is forced to shut down.
On the the other hand, Israeli biomed stocks are highly liquid - that is, it is relatively easy for traders to get into and out of the stocks, despite their small market cap. The index itself enjoys high trading volumes, compared with other TASE indices and it is comprised of a larger number of companies than those representing the real estate and financial sectors. Moreover, of the 50 companies listed on the TASE with the largest floats (percentage of shares held by the public), 15 belong to the biomed industry. In contrast, the public holds just a 25% stake in publicly traded high-tech companies. Fourteen of the 41 companies that have begun trading on the TASE since 2009 are biomed companies, as are three of the four that started since the beginning of 2012. Of the 153 companies delisted from trading since 2009, not one was a biomed.
Be aware that many biomed companies survive for years by raising capital, investing heavily in research and development and clincial trials long before they see any revenues. The key is how quickly R&D burns through the company’s cash, so biomed startups need to periodically find investors to finance them and accept the risk, in exchange for a chance at a large profit at the end of the road.
Not easy to analyze
As a result, analyzing such companies isn’t easy. Their areas of expertise don’t have much in common and their potential value can hardly be gleaned through their cut-and-dried financial reports. The reported information doesn’t provide a full picture of the company’s future potential or its chance of success in trials. Conventional accounting presents a problem.
Instead, a biomed company’s value is based on its stage of development and investors need to keep up-to-date with reports on its progress. Many of these companies have little or no revenues and huge losses.
“In order to develop a clinical product, biomed companies must endure a series of clinical trials that could extend over many years,” explains accountant Yisrael Gewirtz, a partner at Fahn Kanne & Co. - Grant Thornton Israel. “The companies require long-term funding until they manage to complete product development and receive recognition for the trials from the competent authorities of each country.”
While quarterly financial reports don’t provide a full picture, investors also need to be cautious about reports frequently appearing on regular trading days. These reports often generate expectations about success in clinical trials and the progress of development. Investors aren’t always able to get to the bottom of such reports and understand their meaning.
The process of developing a clinical product and gaining regulatory approval is difficult to fully grasp. Each trial contains many stages, and success at one stage doesn’t ensure success for the overall trial. Information contained in company news releases is often meaningless.
Reports of failures such as the death of a clinical trial participant can also be misleading. Some trials are meant from the outset to provide treatment on a compassionate basis for sufferers of terminal illness. The medication might still succeed in treating a condition suffered by the patient whose own life was already beyond saving.
Gewirtz points to six areas that biomed investors should focus on. These include the company’s strategy, budget, stage of clinical trials, its adherence to the trial protocol, regulation, and medical insurance coverage.
“It’s important to know whether the company has a solid strategy concerning the clinical trials in defining their purposes and goals,” says Gewirtz. “Information on this appears in the company’s periodic reports under ‘business goals and strategy’ or ‘products under development.’ The lack of a clear strategy could cause the dispersal of the company’s resources among trials that have no synergy between them.”
Two companies are mentioned by Fahn Kanne as having failed, in their opinion, at the strategic stage. One was Glycominds, the developer of a unique technology for diagnosing multiple sclerosis at an early stage and predicting its severity based on blood testing. The company’s management erred in believing that the test’s high production costs would be covered by sales. Glycominds sales amounted to only 2.5 million shekels and the company accumulated losses of 120 million shekels by the end of 2012.
The second company was Ultrashape, the developer of a medical device in the field of aesthetics for slimming and contouring the body. The company tried to conquer the world of beauty through the Far East, starting with Japan, Thailand, and South Korea and intending to penetrate China.
This proved to be a mistake. Asian countries are well populated but their obesity rates are low. Only 4% of the populations of Japan and South Korea are overweight, and the rate in China is 2%. The company also failed to win marketing approval in the U.S. and quickly collapsed.
Another issue requiring examination is whether the company has enough funding to complete its trials or a plan to raise the capital needed. “Lack of funds means a lack of ability to complete the clinical trial, and everything invested in the trial to date will be lost,” they explain at Fahn Kanne. The company’s cash flow position compared to its budget targets can be checked in its periodic reports in the chapter on finance or the chapter entitled “financial information on the company’s field of activity.”
It is also important to understand which stage the company’s clinical trials have reached. In most cases, marketing approval is only granted after all stages of the trials have been completed. Information on how the trials are progressing and when they are expected to end can be found in the company’s reports in the chapter “stages of drug development” or “clinical trials at company sites.”
Many companies fail during the third and final phase of clinical trials. Pfizer, for instance, developed a drug for Alzheimer’s and reported a wealth of positive indications in earlier clinical phases involving animals and small groups of patients. But in the end the U.S. Food and Drug Administration wouldn’t grant its approval for marketing the drug.
Another important item of information is whether the trial is being conducted on a full or limited basis. Companies sometimes decide to proceed with a limited trial, mostly due to budget considerations, in order to gain an indication of the treatment’s effectiveness and raise more money.
But a limited trial won’t provide conclusive evidence about the product’s effectiveness or lead to regulatory approval. Gewirtz points out that the relevant information can be found in the company’s reports under the chapter on the drug’s stages of development or the discussion of risk factors.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
It was a company press release dated oct 30th. Yahoo doesn't allow posts' with links. How much of your DD do you expect from others? Check out Natcore web site, it's there or simply google it.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
burnaka, I just picked up a few a the Nov. 9's for 1.30. I think Friday we will close higher.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
RED BANK, N.J., Oct. 30, 2013 /CNW/ - An independent study has concluded that Natcore Technology's (NXT.V; NTCXF.PK; 8NT) black silicon technology could reduce silicon solar cell production costs by up to 23.5%.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Rest of article will not post. You will find it at seeking alpha. Google is amazing. It's how I keep up.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Yahoo doesn't allow links.
The following article is for a micro-cap stock, Natcore Technology (OTC:NTCXF), which I presently do not own. You should be aware that investing in such stocks carries a considerable risk, even though the potential return on your investment could be significant if the following company's technology and applications are successfully brought to commercialization.
Be aware that you could lose all of your investment in such a company and should only invest an amount of money that you are prepared to lose some or all of. I am not an investment advisor and I am not providing you with investment advice by writing this article.
What Natcore Does
Natcore Technology has an exclusive licensee agreement from Rice University for an extraordinary new technology for growing thin film. The potential for implementing this patented process in the fields of semi-conductor and fiber-optics manufacturing could be truly momentous for these industries.
Traditionally, the manufacture of solar cells is done by means of chemical vapor deposition (CVD). This is a costly and complicated process involving the use of highly toxic and flammable chemicals as well as extremely expensive equipment.
What Natcore has developed is a liquid phase deposition (LPD) to produce solar cells. This method uses a relatively mild chemical bath and is done at ambient temperatures. The equipment needed is very low-cost compared to the CVD process and there is no need for highly toxic chemicals. The waste product from the LPD process can be recycled or mixed with lime and sold to cement manufacturers for use in their production process.
The LPD process thus provides a significant breakthrough in reducing the cost of producing solar cells. This technology has many potential uses in other fields such as fiber optics, green technology and energy, medical, electronics, science and research and hardware/utility.
However, at the present time Natcore's scientists have "identified which of the company's applications has the most direct path to commercialization," and the company is focusing on these two applications. They are Selective Emitter by LPD and Black Silicon. I am not a scientist and so I am not going to attempt to explain the details of these applications in this article. However, you can read about them on Natcore's website here.
Natcore's Latest News
On September 17th of this year, Natcore announced that Newcyte Inc., which is owned by Natcore, received a patent for a carbon nanostructure artificial retinal implant. (See details here) Dr. Dennis Flood, Natcore's Chief Technology Officer, is the inventor of this device.
Chuck Provini, Natcore's CEO said: "Because of its (artificial retinal implant) huge potential and immediate need for it, we'll probably look for a joint venture partner, a licensee, or an outright buyer to take it to market."
On the other hand, Natcore has three other applications - black silicon, the selective emitter and the flexible solar cell - that have relatively short paths to commercialization and the company is focusing on getting these developed to that point.
Additionally, on September 3rd Natcore announced that it had closed a US$3.15 million non-brokered private placement. Originally, the company planned to raise US$2.5 million in this private placement but it was oversubscribed. Being that it is not easy for small-cap companies to raise capital in the present environment, it seems that Natcore has attracted the attention and the confidence of the market.
Natcore's Share Structure
Shares Outstanding: 45,111,939
Warrants Outstanding: 14,517,197
Options Outstanding: 4,372,000
Fully Diluted: 64,001,136
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On the chart above you can see what the September 17th news on the self-powered artificial retina did to Natcore's stock price. The stock closed yesterday at .82 cents.
Natcore is definitley worth a further look if you are interested in the green energy sector as well as some of the other sectors where the company's technology may have significant commercial potential.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
MIAMI, Oct 21, 2013 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- OPKO Health, Inc. announced that its Barcelona, Spain subsidiary, Pharmadiet, S.L.U. ("Pharmadiet"), received final marketing approval from Spain's health authority (Agencia Espanola de Medicamentos y Productos Sanitarios) for commercialization of its oral and injectable formulations of citicoline. OPKO expects to begin commercialization in Spain of its citicoline products during the first quarter of 2014. OPKO expects that the products will be significant contributors to Pharmadiet's sales and earnings.
Sales of the other citicoline product presently available in Spain, Somazina(R), exceeded $80 million in 2012. Citicoline also enjoys strong sales throughout Latin America, including those countries where OPKO maintains a growing presence.
Citicoline products are indicated for the treatment of memory disorders and behavior related to stroke, head injury, chronic disease, as well as degenerative brain disorders. Citicoline enhances the level of phosphatidylcholine in the brain.
Sentiment: Strong Buy