Solar glitter targets aerospace designs

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The company, which spun off from Sandia National Laboratories in 2017, says the funding will be used to commercialize its DragonSCALEs solar cell technology – individually interconnected cells of highly efficient silicon that can be meshed into any shape or form. DragonSCALEs are lightweight, flexible, resilient, and extremely reliable, and designed to overcome the low-voltage limitations of today’s rigid solar cells.

DragonSCALEs, also called solar glitter are offered as enabling a wide new range of solar power design possibilities for multiple applications and markets. In particular, says the company, by offering reduced weight and stowage volume, increased radiation recovery, and dramatically lower cost as compared to existing Gallium Arsenide-based (III-V) solutions, they are an ideal solution for the aerospace market.

“We’ve made a great deal of progress in 2019 with our partners in the aerospace market,” says Kevin Hell, president and CEO of mPower Technology. “This investment is a direct reflection of the promise of this technology and the confidence our investors have in our ability to execute our business plan in the near future. With its disruptive cost and performance advantages, our groundbreaking technology is incredibly well positioned to be the solar power solution of choice for the next era of aerospace applications, particularly the large emerging market for satellite constellations.”

The solar glitter photovoltaic (PV) cells are produced using microfabrication and microdesign techniques, added to a solution comparable to printing ink, and printed onto an affordable substrate material that focuses light onto the cells with embedded contacts and microlenses. The microprocesses used to create the cells are also common to liquid-crystal displays (LCDs), semiconductors, and other microsystems industries.

As well as being applicable to any shape or size of object, says the company, the solar glitter cells are cheaper to create and easier to install than conventional solar panels. They are extremely thin and can be as tiny as 14 microns thick and 250 microns wide, which both reduces the cost of materials of the cells and enhances their performance.

While the technology offers significant opportunities in the aerospace market initially, says the company, it also has the potential for expanded market opportunity in applications such as remote power, IoT, and terrestrial rooftops.

Lee Rand, Partner, Sun Mountain Capital, one of the investors in the funding round, adds, “This technology is going to drive the next adoption wave of solar power. We’ve already seen the advantages that mPower can deliver in the aerospace market and believe that this is just the start of adoption across many industries.”

mPower Technology

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