Magnolia Solar, a pioneer in the development of affordable solar cells, recently received its second $750,000 award from the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to help apply its proprietary technologies toward deep space exploration. According to Mass High Tech, the goal of the grant is to foster the creation of solar cells that are 20 percent more efficient than current state-of-the-art designs.
The two-year award is part of USAF's Small Business Technology Transfer Program, and will build upon the work of an earlier grant aimed at boosting the voltage of the firm's solar cells.
"We are working to improve the efficiency of photovoltaic devices via novel materials combined with innovative device designs," Magnolia president and CEO Ashok Sood explained. "Quantum dot structures with excellent structural and optical properties were demonstrated during the Phase I program and are intended to be incorporated into advance photovoltaic devices during the Phase II effort."
These mobile energy sources already serve a variety of defense and commercial applications on the ground, but additional refinement will be needed before researchers can confidently deploy them for high-level tasks in space. Luckily, Magnolia has achieved an engineering breakthrough in recent months to produce a simplified, consolidated nanostructure pattern without sacrificing power output.