DuPont Leads $100 M Solar Cell Module Research Program

To help develop key materials for more efficient solar panels, DuPont is to manage prototype development and applications testing for the newly formed DuPont-University of Delaware (UD) Very High Efficiency Solar Cell (VHESC) Consortium. The announcement follows UD’s demonstration of a viable design for a solar cell with a potential efficiency increase of 30 percent.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded the consortium $12.2 million as part of a three-year, multi-phase program that could total up to $100 million.

“We believe the science being developed under this consortium can be transformative if the successes of the program to date can be transitioned from the research laboratory to engineering and manufacturing prototypes,” said Uma Chowdhry, DuPont Senior Vice President and Chief Science and Technology Officer.

The DuPont-University of Delaware VHESC consortium will focus on the development of affordable portable battery chargers based on ultra-high efficiency solar cells, which allow readily deployable recharging of batteries. The proposed system offers significant improvements in solar cell efficiencies compared to existing battery chargers and record flat plate terrestrial solar cells that collect both the direct and diffuse radiation and are not mobile.

The DARPA program aims to dramatically improve battery life and provide the soldier with more power at reduced weight, thus improving mobility, survivability and the availability of advanced electronic technologies on the battlefield. With the higher efficiency of the VHESC technology, solar rechargers could be integrated into common battlefield devices such as night vision goggles, radios and GPS navigation systems.

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