MicroLink Devices, a developer of high-efficiency solar technology, has announced that it has delivered its first production contract of lightweight flexible solar arrays to Prismatic Ltd, which is building the PHASA-35 high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (HALE UAV) in conjunction with BAE Systems. According to MicroLink Devices, its solar arrays have the highest specific power of any solar technology on the market.
The solar cells, which will allow the UAV to fly for months at a time using only solar power, are made up of three semiconductor materials with different bandgaps in a single, ultra-thin structure. They provide greater than 30% efficiency, a level of sunlight to electrical energy conversion that previously has only been achieved by rigid, heavy solar cells mounted on high-cost satellites. MicroLink’s patented inverted metamorphic multijunction (IMM) technology provides over 2.0 kW of power from each kilogram of solar cell material.
Prismatic’s CTO, Dr. Darryl Sergison, explained: “Solar powered HALE UAVs rely on the ability to transform as much power from the sun as possible on the limited areas of the wing and to do this with the minimal amount of weight. The triple junction structure enables effective partitioning of the solar spectrum for energy conversion whilst MicroLink’s lightweight design has proven itself to minimise the mass of this power generation.”
Dr. Noren Pan, President of MicroLink Devices, commented: “Our proprietary solar cell technology provides unrivalled efficiency and low mass, which is critical in ensuring that these new HALE UAV systems can deliver the highest level of performance year-round over the widest possible markets. MicroLink is well-positioned to scale up the production of IMM solar cells to support the exciting emerging markets enabled by HALE UAV over the next few years.”