Alta Devices recently announced a new efficiency record of 29.1% for its single junction gallium-arsenide solar cells, as certified by Fraunhofer ISE CalLab, marking the seventh consecutive time, dating back to 2010, that Alta Devices has achieved this record. This milestone represents the thirteenth cell or module solar efficiency world record achieved by Alta Devices. NASA is testing Alta Devices solar technology at the International Space Station to evaluate Alta’s technology for future NASA low-Earth orbit missions, including powering CubeSats.
Gallium arsenide has several unique characteristics; high efficiency, excellent UV and radiation resistance, flexibility, and low weight. Alta chose to focus on gallium arsenide because of its intrinsic efficiency advantages, as well as its ability to generate electricity at high temperatures and in low light. With its latest record-setting conversion efficiency, Alta's gallium arsenide solar technology is ideally suited to powering products that need autonomous power such as small satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and autonomous vehicles.
Also, Alta has changed the manufacturing economics of solar to enable formats and form-factors that were previously not possible. Gallium arsenide (GaAs) is typically expensive to produce. However, Alta invented a manufacturing technique that develops extremely thin layers of GaAs (a fraction of the thickness of other GaAs solar cells). Alta’s cells are about one micron thick; for comparison, a human hair is approximately 40 microns thick. By utilizing a very thin layer of material with the highest energy density possible, the amount of material needed is low. Therefore, potential system costs can be dramatically reduced.
Alta Devices recently launched its Gen4 AnyLight solar technology, demonstrating continued success in improving its excellent power-to-weight ratio. This fourth-generation technology resulted in a 160% upgrade in power-to-weight ratio over its third-generation technology. Continuous advances in power-to-weight ratio are critical for tomorrow’s small satellites, autonomous UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), electric vehicles, and autonomous sensors. For more details, visit Alta Devices.