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10 December 2012

Global Photonic Energy develops potential grid-parity solar cell

At the 2012 Fall Meeting of the Materials Research Society (MRS) in Boston at the beginning of December, Global Photonic Energy Corp (GPEC) of Medford Lakes, NJ, USA – a developer of a organic photovoltaic (OPV) technology that has research partnerships with the University of Southern California, the University of Michigan and Princeton University – said that it has demonstrated a thin-film solar cell that can potentially provide electricity at grid parity (the cost of traditionally provided electricity), it is claimed.

Dr Stephen R. Forrest of the University of Michigan said the breakthrough is the result of substantially reduced production costs, based on a patent-pending invention that reuses the same gallium arsenide wafer multiple times to produce solar cells. This unlimited wafer reuse approach to conventional epitaxial lift-off technology (which typically leads to wafer damage, and hence only a very limited number – just one or two – of wafer reuses) has the potential to reduce the cost of a typical GaAs solar cell to below $1 per Watt (peak), it is reckoned.

The development implies that “ultra-high-efficiency solar cells based on gallium arsenide can eventually produce electricity at or below grid parity,” according to Forrest. “Using integrated solar concentrators and our adhesive-free, cold-weld bonding technology to plastic substrates, we estimate electricity could be produced as low as $0.45 cents per Watt, compared to traditional grid parity of $1 per Watt.”

“In addition to its dramatically reduced cost structure, this demonstration in the University of Michigan laboratories can be used for numerous applications because these high-efficiency solar cells, deployed on roll-up plastic sheets, are ultra-lightweight and flexible,” says GPEC’s president & CEO Dean Ledger. “These applications include use in off-grid locations, spot powering of vehicles, mobile military equipment and satellites.” Ledger adds that GPEC will commercialize its technology through licensing of its intellectual property, becoming part of its foundational portfolio of more than 425 patents (issued and pending).

Tags: GaAs photovoltaic


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