12 April 2010


Cambrios selects Ascent as PV partner for US Army flexible solar cell contract

Electronic materials firm Cambrios Technologies Corp, which has developed wet-processed, transparent conductive films, has selected flexible copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) photovoltaic module maker Ascent Solar Technologies Inc of Thornton, CO, USA as its research partner to investigate how the films can be applied to lightweight, flexible CIGS photovoltaics, which is a topic of a recently awarded US Army contract W911QY-BAA-09-11-1 from the US Army's Natick research facility.

As part of the program, which will be undertaken on behalf of the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), Cambrios will deliver flexible solar cells that incorporate a Cambrios ClearOhm electrode layer. Because of the material’s improved transparency and light-handling capability, it is expected that these cells will be 1–3% more efficient than the equivalent cells made with the conventional transparent electrode material (such as indium tin oxide and other transparent conductive oxides).

“Ascent Solar has very high efficiency CIGS solar cells, so they are the perfect partner for this program,” says Cambrios’ CEO Dr Michael Knapp. “Unlike transparent conductive oxides typically used as thin-film solar cell electrodes, Cambrios’ ClearOhm material is also highly flexible,” he adds. “Together, our companies have the right technologies to provide the Army with lightweight, flexible CIGS solar cells with better efficiency than what has been possible to date.”

The US military is the single largest consumer of energy in the world, and energy supply is an important issue for each soldier, says Ascent. Solar energy has been widely deployed by the US military to power permanent and temporary military installations and to reduce the weight carried by soldiers. Flexible PV cells can facilitate the use of this power source by making them more easily deployed on a variety of surfaces, such as tents, clothing and backpacks.

“Their technology, with its higher optical transmission and improved electrical performance, offers us the potential to enhance the performance of our photovoltaic modules,” says Ascent’s president & CEO Farhad Moghadam about Cambrios. “Combined with the potential to implement direct-write deposition technology, it is possible to simplify our manufacturing process,” he adds. “Finally, the performance of their technology matches up well with our future needs in high-performance flexible PV modules.”

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