Magnolia Solar has received a US$750,000 Phase II award from the United States Air Force Research Laboratory as part of the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) programme. The award will fund a two-year project to develop flexible, lightweight, ultra-high efficiency multi-junction solar cells for space power applications.
Magnolia is currently compiling a patent portfolio around its proprietary technologies for this award – Phase I saw Magnolia work on increasing the current and voltage output of photovoltaic devices – and other work with government funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the National Aeronautical Space Administration. The final goal is to create thin, flexible, multi-junction solar cells with an efficiency approaching 40%.
“Photovoltaic devices can provide a mobile source of electrical power for a variety of military applications in space and terrestrial environments,” Magnolia president and CEO Dr. Ashok Sood said. “Many of these applications can directly benefit from enhancements in the efficiency of the photovoltaic devices. In particular, flexible, lightweight, high-efficiency solar cells are needed to maximise the power-generating capability of space, ground-based and air-based defence applications.”
“Current approaches to increase the efficiency of multi-junction structures typically used for space power generation are reaching practical limitations due to fundamental constraints in conventional multi-junction device design,” Dr. Roger Welser, Magnolia's chief technical officer, added. “By combining wide and narrow bandgap material within each p-n junction, quantum-structured solar cells can overcome these constraints and increase the current and the voltage output of each subcell within a multi-junction solar cell.”