Spire To Develop High Efficiency Solar Cells for Space

Spire Corporation announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Spire Semiconductor LLC has been awarded a contract from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to develop high efficiency, multi-junction solar cells for space applications.

“This award is timely since it supports our ongoing terrestrial solar cell business. Currently, we are developing a 42% efficient, 500 sun concentrator cell under a U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory contract. The MDA contract will help to further establish our capabilities and expertise in concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) cell technology for both space and terrestrial solar cell applications,” said Ed Gagnon, general manager of Spire Semiconductor.

Earlier this year, Spire Semiconductor matched the current efficiency record for a concentrator solar cell. The record efficiency is available on a production ready cell with a photo area of 1.0 cm². The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) measured the efficiency of 41.0% at 500x suns concentrated sunlight.

Spire Semiconductor began working with NREL under an 18-month, US $3.7 million cost share subcontract in early-2009. The goal is to develop a triple junction, gallium arsenide (GaAs), 42.5% conversion efficient “Triathlon” concentrator cell for concentrator photovoltaic systems.

“The market opportunities for concentrator solar cells are significant. This contract supports commercial initiatives at Spire Semiconductor and provides validation of Spire’s approach to increasing the efficiency where lowering the cost of concentrator solar cells. We have already generated significant customer interest, and we plan to work closely with the MDA and customers to develop devices that optimally address strategic interests and market needs,” said Roger Little, chairman and CEO of Spire.


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