MicroLink Devices Achieves 37.75 Efficiency with Solar Cell, and NASA and U.S. Navy Award Company Project Grants

MicroLink Devices, Inc. reports that its three-junction epitaxial lift-off (ELO) thin-film solar cell achieved a 37.75% power conversion efficiency, certified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The testing was under the industry standard air mass 1.5 global (AM1.5G) simulated 1-Sun solar spectrum.

In other company news, the U.S. Navy awarded the company Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) grants for Phase I and Phase II programs. Additionally, the company won a NASA SBIR Phase II Program grant to develop phosphide-based four-junction and five-junction radiation hardened solar cells with efficiency above 35 percent for future NASA missions.

MicroLink Devices asserts that the 37.75% efficiency is the highest reported efficiency for a triple junction ELO solar cell produced on a 6-inch GaAs substrate production platform and says that the solar cell design exceeds 3000 W/kg under 1-sun AM0 spectrum, which is the world’s record power to weight ratio compared all other solar cell technologies.

MicroLink notes that its proprietary ELO process allows the peeling off thin layers of active solar cell material previously deposited on a GaAs semiconductor substrate. The company also points out that that the expensive GaAs substrate can be re­used multiple times.

MicroLink Devices Awarded Grants

For the Phase I program grant, the Navy needs to make its sonobuoys ready for deployment and operation at any time without requiring peripheral charging equipment or human intervention. MicroLink Devices will develop a floating solar array that will be rolled up inside the sonobuoy before deployment. When combined with rechargeable batteries, the array should continuously power a sonobuoy for several years.

The U.S. Navy also awarded the company an STTR Phase II Program grant for integrating solar sheets produced with company’s inverted metamorphic multi-junction (IMM) multi-junction ELO solar cell fabrication technology onto the Navy’s PUMA Unmanned Aerial Surveillance (UAS) platform. For the Puma, the output power from the solar-enhanced wing will be over 130 W and should enable 8 or more hours of flight.

The company will present its latest solar cell technology at the Space Power Workshop in Los Angeles (April 23-27) and IEEE Photovoltaics Specialists Conference in Waikoloa, HI (June 10-15).