Magnolia to Develop Single Junction GaAs Solar for DARPA Program

Magnolia Optical Technology, Inc. based in Woburn, Massachusetts USA announced that the company is working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under the Phase II SBIR Program for the Development of High-Performance Thin-Film Solar Cells for Portable Power Applications (Contract No D15PC00222). Magnolia develops novel optical technologies for defense and commercial applications.

Such photovoltaic technology provide a portable source of electrical power for a wide array of commercial and defense applications, such as remote sensors, mobile power for dismounted soldiers, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

“The goal of the current program is to develop high-efficiency GaAs-based solar cells that maintain their performance over changing environmental conditions, and that are thinner and thus more cost-effective to produce,” said Dr. Roger Welser, Magnolia’s Chief Technical Officer.

Dr. Wesler noted that single-junction GaAs-based solar cells combining thin III-V absorbers with light-trapping structures can provide high-efficiency over a wide range of operating conditions at a fraction of the cost of typical multi-junction structures used to power satellites. In addition, Wesler indicated that the integration of nano-enhanced III-V absorbers offers a way to extend infrared absorption and increase the photovoltaic power conversion efficiency of economical, thin-film solar cells.

Dr. Ashok Sood, President of Magnolia stated that “changes in the solar spectrum can dramatically degrade the performance of traditional multi-junction devices – changes that occur naturally throughout the day, from season to season, and from location to location as sunlight passes through the earth’s atmosphere. “

Dr. Sood pointed out that multi-junction III-V cells require thick, complex epitaxial layers and are therefore intrinsically expensive to produce.  Dr. Sood added, “The technology under development as part of this DARPA-funded program addresses these key weaknesses in the established high-performance photovoltaic technology. The photovoltaic market is a rapidly growing segment of the energy industry with a wide range of commercial and defense
applications.”