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SBIR/STTR

Low-Profile, Corner Light Collections For Cropped Space Solar Cells, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

CropGlass is adhered to the top of CIC coverglass in the crops and overlapping a small area of the cell. Light enters through the top of CropGlass and is reflected back upward. Total internal reflection keeps the light inside CropGlass and the majority of the light is directed laterally through CropGlass and then downward onto the overlapped cell area. CropGlass is a very low risk technology, as it is made from entirely flight heritage materials, it is low profile and it has no moving parts. Additionally, CropGlass leverages mature nano- and micro-fabrication techniques which will result in a low cost for high volumes. CropGlass offers the ability to increase power or decrease cost without influencing other solar array design parameters. Very large solar arrays will benefit most because of the huge power levels and cost of these programs. Because CropGlass can be added to a complete array, this innovation will also be beneficial to completed solar array programs that experienced less than anticipated power or increases in needed power late in the manufacture of the solar arrays. Competing approaches include reflective concentrators such as panel edge reflectors. What makes crop glass unique is that it is flat, requires no deployment of optics and does not require a custom solar panel or blanket design. No existing concentration technology offers such a low cost, low risk and flight heritage-based path to higher power and lower cost. CropGlass concentrates light at less than 3x. Past industry attempts at concentration above 10x have shown many engineering challenges at these high concentration levels. These challenges include heat rejection, outgassing of concentrator material and power loss in off-pointing. Conversely the industry has heritage of successful concentration at lower levels. More »

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