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Physics Seminar

III-V's for photovoltaics: future applications and challenges

Speaker: Dr Louise Hirst (University of Cambridge)
Date: Wednesday 22 January 2020
Time: 15:00
Venue: N/3.28

Silicon technologies dominate the terrestrial photovoltaics market. In the past decade the module cost has dropped by an order of magnitude to 0.25 $/W, exceeding predictions and establishing PV as the cheapest form of electricity generation in regions of high solar isolation. This dramatic change has lead to a large increase in global installed capacity putting us on track for a TW by 2022. Throughout this time period, III-V technologies have continued to break efficiency records (now 47.1% for a multijunction device under concentration and 29.1% for a flat plate single junction device). Despite this success, as the silicon PV market reaches maturity and shifts consumers away from conventional energy sources, the future impact of III-V technologies and critical R&D targets must be reconsidered. One PV application which is dominated by III-V technologies is space power systems. These have very different requirements to their terrestrial counterparts and the high efficiency and relative tolerance to harsh radiation environments offered by III-V multijunction devices enables high specific power (W/kg) as well as extended on-orbit lifetimes. At a time of rapid expansion and commercialization of the space sector there is a critical need for innovation in the field of space power systems to enable low cost access to space based services and extended missions in hostile environments. This talk will discuss the future specification of space power systems as well as emerging technology concepts which might address these demands.