Flexible Luminescent Solar Concentrators


What is it?
In collaboration with Imperial College and Columbia Biosciences, NRL is developing a photovoltaic (solar cell) system that uses proteins from blue-green and red algae to form an efficient, flexible, low-cost solar array.

How does it work?
A luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) is a flat, planar material that channels light to solar cells coupled to the LSC edge. An LSC can be formed from inexpensive material and flexible material, thereby enabling an efficient, man-portable solar blanket. Phycobilisomes, antennae proteins from algae, naturally absorb blue-green light and emit red and form the basis for an LSC form well adapted for underwater operation.

Carbon Nanoelectronics


What is it?
Carbon nano-electronics are next generation electronics which employ carbon nano-materials (graphene or carbon nanotubes) as the active electronic component.

How does it work?
In general, the fundamental operating mechanism of carbon-based devices is much like that of traditional Si transistors; they differ because of the unique intrinsic electronic properties of carbon nanomaterials resulting from quantum confinement.

High Power Flexible Solar Blankets


What is it?
NRL is developing photovoltaics (solar cells) that combine high power output with lightweight and flexibility.

How does it work?
Crystalline, high efficiency, multi-junction solar cells are lifted off the growth substrate and laid down onto a lightweight, flexible blanket. This forms a blanket with potentially 3x the power output of current technologies.

Gallium Nitride


What is it?
An up and coming III-V semiconductor material system for high-power high-speed applications.

How does it work?
Internal strain and piezoelectric fields give rise to a two-dimensional electron gas by which carriers travel from source to drain.

Inorganic Nanocrystal Solar Cells


What is it?
NRL is developing photovoltaics (solar cells) from solution-based materials.

How does it work?
The solar cells are formed from nanocrystals that can be engineered to absorb light over a broad wavelength range. The nanocrystals can be manipulated and processed in solution, making it possible to form a photovoltaic film.

Nano-injector Photo-transistor


What is it?
NRL is developing infrared (IR) nano-injector phototransistor (IR-NIPT) technology, for high-gain active IR-sensors that operate at low bias and are compatible with passive read0out integrated circuits (ROICs).

How does it work?
In the IR-NIPT, a large area collector is coupled to a much smaller base and emitter regions. Short wave IR (SWIR) photons create minority electrons in the collector, which are swept into the base by the negative emitter-collector bias. The injection of the photo-electrons into the small-volume base region is accompanied by transistor base-collector current gain, magnified by the large collector to base-emitter volume ratio. The resulting high photo-current gain is produced without avalanche multiplication, avoiding high operating bias and the potential for high excess noise.

Near Space Characterization of Advanced Photovoltaics


What is it?
NSCAP is building a user facility, operated by NRL, teamed with AFRL and NASA GRC, to calibrate solar cells for use in space.

How does it work?
Solar cells are mounted to a system that flies on a high altitude balloon to provide current vs. voltage measurements above the Earth's atmosphere.

Pulsed Laser SEE Testing


What is it?
Pulsed laser systems for generating short pulses of light suitable for doing single event effects (SEEs) testing of integrated circuits - one for testing from the top side, the other for testing from the back side.

How does it work?
Short pulses of light are focused to produce a small spot that is positioned on areas of the IC sensitive to SEEs. When light is absorbed in the semiconductor charges are created that disturb the voltages at sensitive nodes, leading to either destructive or non-destructive SEEs. This is analogous to what happens when heavy ions in the radiation environment of space pass through sensitive nodes in the IC.

Photovoltaicly Powered Optical Data Link


What is it?
NRL is developing photovoltaics based on monolithically integrated modules (MIM-PV) "tuned" to the laser wavelength of an optical data link to enable direct integration and form a self-powered, covert data link for deployed sensors.

How does it work?
The optical link transfers data by impressing data on a laser beam. The specialized solar cell (MIM-PV) is engineered to convert the laser light into electricity. Also, the MIM structure allows the solar cell output power to be conditioned to match the system requirements for maximum energy transfer efficiency.

Type-II Superlattice Infrared Detectors


What is it?
NRL is using bandstructure ENgineering with III---V Materials grown on GaSb Substrates to develop the next generation of high performance infrared (IR) sensors.

How does it work?
III---V based type---II superlattices and bulk alloys lattice matched to 6.1 Å GaSb substrates yield direct bandgap semiconductors with strong absorption over the key IR imaging bands. The key advantage is the large range of band gaps and band---alignments that are available in the 6.1 Å family, which allows for tailoring of the bandstructure to lower dark current.

Photovoltaics for Underwater Applications


What is it?
NRL is developing photovoltaics (solar cells) "tuned" to the filtered light underwater to provide power for underwater unmanned vehicles (UUVs) and deployed sensors.

How does it work?
As sunlight penetrates the water, it loses intensity and is spectrally shifted toward the blue. Conventional solar cells lose efficiency under this bluer spectrum. Using high bandgap semiconductors designed for space applications, high bandgap solar cells can take advantage of the bluer spectrum underwater.