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Posted: Nov 29, 2011
Fraunhofer to Continue Partnership With AZUR SPACE on Multi-junction PV Cells for Applications in Space
(Nanowerk News) On November 24th, 2011 Fraunhofer ISE (Freiburg, Germany) announced that it has signed an agreement to continue its collaboration on the development and production of multi-junction solar photovoltaic (PV) cells with AZUR SPACE Solar Power GmbH (Heilbronn, Germany) for another 20 years.
The two organizations have worked together for the previous 15 years to develop and manufacture high-efficiency multi-junction PV cells based on III-V semiconductors, and Fraunhofer states that it will continue to work exclusively with AZUR SPACE on new PV cells for applications in space.
"The manufacturing process developed at Fraunhofer ISE for multi-junction solar cells serves as the basis for the industry production carried out today by AZUR SPACE Solar Power," explained Dr. Andreas Bett, deputy director of Fraunhofer ISE and division director of Materials – Solar Cells and Technology.
Multi-junction PV cell for space applications during measurement of current-voltage characteristics.
III-V semiconductors allow for optimization
Fraunhofer notes that in contrast to silicon, III-V semiconductors can be optimized to match specific wavelength ranges in the solar spectrum by adjusting atomic compositions, which allows for multi-layered PV cells where different layers absorb different wavelengths of light.
Fraunhofer notes that as a result efficiencies of triple-junction solar cells can reach around 30% in space. However, the organization also notes that in the future these cells are expected to generate more electricity per cell area, weigh less and better withstand the charged particles encountered in orbit.
Fraunhofer's work in developing these cells is supported by the European Space Agency (Paris, France) the German Aerospace Center (Cologne, Germany) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.