US Air Force upgrades space-based solar

The US Air Force has developed new highly efficient, radiation-tolerant solar cells for use in space. The US Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) inverted metamorphic multi-junction (IMM) solar technology offers […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

The US Air Force has developed new highly efficient, radiation-tolerant solar cells for use in space.

The US Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) inverted metamorphic multi-junction (IMM) solar technology offers increased power efficiency at reduced costs and will be used primarily for military space applications.

Each unit’s multiple layers of light-absorbing materials means it can convert specific wavelengths of the solar spectrum into energy.

The IMM cells are claimed to be 15% more powerful than a similarly array of standard multi-junction solar cells.

The developers say they can be used to solve the efficiency and mass needs of the space community, as well as freeing up more room on satellites for other tools.

AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate Electronics Engineer Kerry Bennington said: “We found that by growing cells upside down on gallium arsenide, we can more effectively tailor the material properties of the individual absorbing layers.”