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28 September 2009


DARPA awards Energy Focus $3.1m to develop spectrum-splitting solar module

Energy Focus Inc of Solon, OH, USA, which provides LED lighting and fiber-optic products, has entered into a $3.1m, two-year contract with the DuPont-University of Delaware VHESC (Very High Efficiency Solar Cell) consortium as part of solar research funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to enable low-cost photovoltaics.

“Energy Focus’ role on the VHESC program during the initial phase of the effort helped pave the way for the developments to date,” claims the firm’s chief technology officer Roger Buelow. “A key part of our company's vision is to be able to provide distributed, low-cost energy that enables buildings to be completely off grid,” adds CEO Joe Kaveski.

Picture: Solar modules using spectrum-splitting optics.

DARPA recently began the second two-year phase of a four-year program with the VHESC consortium to raise the system power efficiency of a new class of solar modules to 40% and to deliver manufacturable engineering prototype modules.

The modules under development by the VHESC team use an optical ‘spectrum splitting’ system that directs light from the sun into different paths corresponding to the color of the light, and concentrates the light onto photovoltaic cells that cover different segments of the solar spectrum. The technology could boost rooftop power three-fold over silicon, it is said.

DARPA is developing the VHESC solar module technology for compact renewable energy to power both permanent and mobile bases, as well as to reduce the logistical burden of supplying energy (e.g. batteries and fuel) to the US military in the field.

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