Space missions to probe environments close to the sun will require photovoltaic cells capable of operating efficiently at high temperatures, under high light intensity, and high radiation conditions. Several missions are currently planned to study inner ring planets and solar environments, the most prominent being Solar Probe+. This work will support such missions by: (1) enabling a wide band gap GaP-based solar cell incorporating nano-scale features to harvest low-energy photons otherwise uncollected, and (2) taking advantage of the high temperature stability inherent to wide band gap material to improve system efficiency at elevated temperatures.
The goal of this proposal is to develop and characterize a photovoltaic cell capable of operating at temperatures exceeding 250oC. The use of wide band gap materials will enable higher operating temperatures and more stable operation with temperature. The incorporation of quantum size features will yield improved operation under concentration and reduce sensitivity to radiation. Additionally, the quantum size features will increase the spectral response of the cell, thereby increasing the maximum efficiency. The development of such cells will provide an invaluable power source for proposed science missions to study the Sun and inner planets.