Kopin Corp. has recently been awarded a $600,000 NASA contract for the production of nanostructured solar cells made from indium gallium phosphide (InGaP) materials. The two-year NASA Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program will be to develop a solar cell design that has a higher efficiency while being less expensive than the traditional multi-junction technology.
“The material structures used in conventional solar cell designs significantly limit their power conversion efficiency and performance, requiring a trade-off between current and voltage,” said Dr. Roger E. Welser, Kopin’s Director of New Product Development. “For this SBIR program, we are employing a proprietary, patent-pending structure incorporating InGaP barriers, the same material used in our HBT (heterojunction bipolar transistor) wafers for billions of cell phones. In the Phase I program, Kopin produced several InGaP-based test structures that demonstrated a significant increase in the open-circuit voltage without any degradation in current. In this follow-up Phase II program, we aim to further enhance performance while maintaining our long-term objective to produce high-efficiency photovoltaic cells with low cost and good stability.”
This is Kopin’s second contract with NASA for 2008 in regards to the development of nanostructured solar cell technology. In May 2008, Kopin was awarded its first two-year, $600,000 NASA contract for the advancement of indium nitride-based solar cells.
Dr. John C.C. Fan, Kopin’s President and Chief Executive Officer stated, “This SBIR program is part of Kopin’s strategy to leverage our unique expertise in nanostructured III-V materials to create high-efficiency solar cells at low cost for the emerging terrestrial renewable energy market. For unconcentrated sunlight, we believe our innovative approach in this SBIR program has the potential to achieve conversion efficiencies exceeding 40% with a single p-n junction device, approximately 20% higher than the current efficiencies of today’s best multi-junction solar cells.”