Tuesday, July 29, 2008

33% Efficient Inverted Metamorphic Photovoltaic Cells Win R&D Award

IMM (inverted metamorhic) photovoltaic cells from Albuquerque manufacturer Emcore, have been awarded the R&D Magazine "R&D 100" Award.
This revolutionary solar cell technology provides a platform for EMCORE's next generation photovoltaic products for space and terrestrial solar power applications. Solar cells built using IMM technology recently achieved world record conversion efficiency of 33% used in space, and it is anticipated that efficiency levels in the 42%-45% range will be achieved when adapted for use under the 500-1500X concentrated illumination, typical in terrestrial concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) systems. Once commercialized, the CPV systems that are powered with EMCORE's IMM based products will see a reduction in the cost of power generated by approximately 10% to 20%. EMCORE expects to commercialize this technology for both space and terrestrial applications in 2009.

Developed in conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Vehicle Systems Directorate of the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the IMM design is comprised of a novel combination of compound semiconductors that enables a superior response to the solar spectrum as compared to conventional multi-junction architecture. Due to its unique design, the IMM cell is approximately one fifteenth the thickness of the conventional multi-junction solar cell and will enable a new class of extremely lightweight, high-efficiency, and flexible solar arrays for space applications. _Source_via_NextEnergyNews
It has been barely a year since Emcore achieved 31% efficiency with its IMM design. And if this design can achieve 45% or better efficiency with concentrating optics, it will be something to write home about.

In the midst of all the excitement, it is important to remember that the usefulness of photovoltaics will remain limited until robust, affordable utility-scale electrical storage is available. For weight sensitive applications such as space missions or airborne energy supplies, this type of efficiency does matter.



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