Alta Devices launches new solar cell for vehicle integration

The fourth generation of Alta Devices’ single junction gallium arsenide cell technology is 40% lighter than the company’s previous offering, which it says means an improvement to its power to weight ratio of 160%.

Alta Devices, a California-based company, which was acquired by thin film producer, Hanergy in 2014, designed its cells to be integrated with vehicles – providing lightweight and high efficiency generation on a very small area.

With the new design, the company says it has been able to reduce material use from 240 g/m² to 170 g/m², without any reduction in performance. Alta Devices currently holds the efficiency record for a single junction solar cell, at 28.8%, which has stood since 2012. The company also says that reducing the thickness of the panels in this way allows for a smoother, more aerodynamic surface for vehicles.

“Autonomy in the air and on the ground is becoming a reality,” said Jian Ding, Alta Devices CEO.  “While there has been much discussion, thought, and progress on the ‘eyes, ears, and brains’ for these vehicles, there has been little focus on autonomous power.”

The announcement from Alta Devices comes just a few weeks after Microlink Devices, another U.S.-based company working on lightweight gallium arsenide cell concepts, achieved 37.75% efficiency on a triple junction solar cell.