Sine-limiting microcell solar concentrators for space

Christian J. Ruud, Jeffrey M. Gordon, Robert F. McCarthy, Noel C. Giebink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microcell concentrating photovoltaics (µCPV) have the potential to improve performance and reduce the cost of solar power in space. Here, we introduce an ultracompact V-cone tailored edge ray (V-TERC) concentrator, rooted in nonimaging optics, which enables operation near the sine limit. Relative to previous space µCPV implementations, this concentrator design enables an approximate four-fold increase in concentration ratio for a given acceptance angle and specific power. We validate the design through ray tracing simulations and construction of a proof-of-concept system that consists of a 650 × 650 µm2 triple-junction microcell bonded to a 3.1 mm-thick prototype V-TERC optic. In outdoor testing on a sunny day, the system achieves a power conversion efficiency of 30% at a geometric gain of 137× with a specific power of 90 W kg−1 and an acceptance angle of ±4.5°. This is a record combination for µCPV to date and represents an important step toward increasing efficiency and lowering the cost of solar power in space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40328-40336
Number of pages9
JournalOptics Express
Issue number22
StatePublished - Oct 24 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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