Solar-Powered, Micron-Gap Thermophotovoltaics for MEO Applications

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX11CE13P
Agency Tracking Number: 105045
Amount: $99,997.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2010
Solicitation Topic Code: S3.03
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
MicroLink Devices
IL, Niles, IL, 60714-3301
DUNS: 135553472
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Mark Osowski
 Principal Investigator
 (847) 588-3001
Business Contact
 Noren Pan
Title: Business Official
Phone: (847) 588-3001
Research Institution
The proposed innovation is an InGaAs-based, radiation-tolerant, micron-gap thermophotovoltaic (MTPV) technology. The use of a micron wide gap between the radiation source and the photovoltaic substantially increases the efficiency of the thermophotovoltaic. This work will be accomplished by combining MicroLink's state-of-the-art InGaAs-based epitaxial lift-off solar cell structure on an InP substrate, and MTPV, LLC's leading-edge, micron-gap thermophotovoltaic device technology. The relevance of this innovation is that it addresses NASA's ongoing need for high-efficiency, lightweight, compact sources power for space vehicles. TPV is an attractive and technically feasible candidate for space power supplies, but its relatively poor efficiency performance has meant that it has not seen widespread use in space applications. However, MTPV technology, by bringing the emitter into the near field of the photovoltaic, couples an order of magnitude more power across the nano-scale vacuum gap than can be absorbed from the far-field spectrum and does so while maintaining the benefits of conventional TPV. MicroLink's ELO growth technology promises to further increase coupled power relative to the current germanium TPV cells while simultaneously reducing substrate costs. Thus, MicroLink ELO and MTPV technology can offer both high efficiency and reasonable cost TPV systems for the first time.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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