Tuesday, November 08, 2005

DARPA Funding Solar Cell Research

So many scientific and engineering advances have their roots in either military or space programs. I was excited to read that DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is funding research in to solar cell efficiency.
The Darpa program calls upon the consortium to develop and produce 1,000 Very High Efficiency Solar Cell (VHESC) prototypes that are affordable and that operate at efficiencies of at least 50 percent. Currently, high-end solar cells operate at a peak efficiency of 24.7 percent, and solar cells off the production line operate at 15-20 percent efficiency.

The consortium’s goal is to create solar cells that operate at about 54 percent efficiency in the laboratory and 50 percent in production.

The VHESC would have immediate application in the military, which increasingly relies upon a variety of electronics for individual soldiers and the equipment that supports them. As well, it is expected the solar cells will have a large number of commercial applications.
DARPA's informational page on the program can be found here.