30 December 2010
NYSERDA awards Magnolia second product development contract
Magnolia Solar Corp of Woburn, MA, USA, which develops nanostructure-based thin-film solar cells for terrestrial applications for defense and commercial applications, says that its subsidiary has received a second product development contract from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The baseline program award is for $250,000, with Magnolia contributing matching funds.
The new program builds upon previously announced and on-going NYSERDA program efforts at Magnolia. In October, Magnolia received funding from NYSERDA for Phase II of an existing three-phase $1m development program (begun in March with Phase I) to demonstrate high-efficiency nanostructured thin-film solar cells.
The latest contract (which lasts one year) aims to improve the performance of thin-film solar cells by incorporating light trapping techniques and nanostructured optical coatings. As part of the technical effort, Magnolia will collaborate with Technical Advisory Board member professor Fred Schubert and his team at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY to incorporate nanostructured-based coatings developed for light-emitting diodes into high-efficiency solar cell applications.
Principal investigator on the new NYSERDA program is Magnolia’s chief technical officer Dr Roger E. Welser, who will lead the effort to develop nanostructured coatings that can scatter light horizontally into the active layers of thin-film solar cells. “With this approach, Magnolia is aiming to revolutionize the power-generating capability of terrestrial photovoltaic systems by developing a low-cost, thin-film technology that delivers unprecedented levels of electrical energy per unit area,” he notes.
Both higher current and voltage outputs are expected from thin-film solar cells combining Magnolia’s unique material structure with nanoengineered optical coatings that can scatter normally incident light laterally into the device. “Advanced light trapping structures are needed to improve the current output and efficiency of a variety of different thin-film technologies,” Welser adds.
“Magnolia’s nanostructured optical coatings, developed in collaboration with professor Fred Schubert, can both minimize reflection losses on the front surfaces of thin-film solar cells, and recycle photons that pass through the device back into the absorbing semiconductor thin film layers,” Welser continues.
Magnolia’s technology also has the ability to capture a larger part of the solar spectrum to produce high-efficiency solar cells, and incorporates a unique nanostructure-based antireflection coating technology to further increase the solar cell’s efficiency, reducing the cost per watt. Magnolia’s technology targets electrical power generation applications, such as power for electrical grids and distributed power applications ranging from commercial and residential lighting to specialized military applications.
“Commercially viable renewable energy has tremendous potential benefits for New York State in terms of security, economic growth, and the environment,” comments Magnolia’s president & CEO Dr Ashok K. Sood. “We are committed to growing in the Albany region, supported by the world-class intellectual and technological infrastructure at RPI and CNSE’s Albany NanoTech Complex,” he adds.
In October, Magnolia opened an office at the Albany Nanotech complex on the campus of the University of Albany (State University of New York), in order to allow staff to collaborate closely with the development team members at the SUNY Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) as well as RPI, and to better capitalize on the characterization facilities available in the New York capital region.