Dr. Stephen R. Forrest of the University of Michigan said the breakthrough, presented at the fall meeting of the Materials Research Society, is the result of substantially reduced production costs.
It is 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 that typically leads to wafer damage, and hence only a very limited number (1 or 2) of wafer reuses, has the potential to reduce the cost of a typical gallium arsenide solar cell to below $1/w (peak).
"This exciting development implies that ultra-high efficiency solar cells based on gallium arsenide can eventually produce electricity at or below grid parity." Dr. Forrest stated. "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/w, compared to traditional grid parity of $1/w."
"This is an historic development for GPEC," stated Dean Ledger, president and CEO of GPEC. "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.
"These applications include use in off-grid locations, spot powering of vehicles, mobile military equipment and satellites." Mr. Ledger said GPEC will commercialize its technology through licensing of its intellectual property, becoming part of its foundational portfolio of more than 425 patents.