GaP/Silicon Tandem Solar Cell with Extended Temperature Range
About This Technology
Technology Marketing Summary
NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) innovators have developed unique, tandem photovoltaic cells (or “solar cells”) in configurations that offer improved performance at an extended temperature range.
DescriptionThe highest efficiency solar cells available today offer multiple junctions with subcells, using different semi-conductor materials. By layering the subcells, the solar spectrum is split into several bands, with the topmost layer absorbing the shortest wavelength of light and the lowest layer absorbing the longest wavelength. In contrast to the germanium substrates used for most multi-junction (or “tandem”) solar cells, GRC’s patented technology uses a crystalline silicon (Si) substrate, offering lower weight and lower cost. GRC’s multi-junction solar cell has bottom solar cell junctions of silicon and a top solar cell junction of gallium phosphide, the thicknesses and characteristics of which are adjusted for optimal efficiency. Because the solar cells are able to operate at both room and elevated temperatures, a variety of terrestrial and high-temperature operating conditions can be accommodated.
Applications and IndustriesSolar-powered products and applications:
- Improved performance: Offers good performance at many more temperature levels compared with prior solar cells
- Lower cost: Provides a more economical choice of Si as a manufacturing substrate, compared with germanium
- Robust design: Provides greater resistance to fracture and has higher thermal conductivity than solar cells using germanium
- Lighter: Reduces the weight of the solar cells compared with germanium-based tandem solar cells, due to the lightweight nature of Si
- Commercial and residential construction
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