NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 E2.06-8773
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Energy Conversion for Space Applications
PROPOSAL TITLE: High Efficiency Quantum Dot III-V Thermophotovoltaic Cell for Space Power

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Essential Research Inc
6410 Eastland Rd. Suite D
Cleveland, OH 44142-1306
(440)816-9850

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
William King
king@essential-research.com
6410 Eastland Rd. Suite D
Cleveland, OH 44142-1306
(440)816-9850

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
Quantum dots are nanoscale materials that have already improved the performance of optical sensors, lasers, light emitting diodes and solar cells. The unique properties of these nanomaterials offer tremendous benefit in developing high efficiency thermophotovoltaic cells as well. Theoretical studies predict a potential efficiency of 63.2% for an array of quantum dots sandwiched between the emitter and base layers in a typical photovoltaic junction. Significant gains can also be expected in the case of thermophotovoltaic cells.

We propose an InGaAs TPV cell which incorporates InAs quantum dots to provide sub-gap absorption and thus improve the short-circuit current. This cell could then be integrated into a MIM to achieve a TPV cell whose efficiency would significantly exceed (by about 15% to 20%) current SOA standards. These TPV cells can be used for deep space missions, with a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) fueled by plutonium-238 as the on-board source of heat.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
Quantum dots will allow NASA not only to improve device efficiency by expanding the spectral response of individual cells, but to improve the temperature coefficients and radiation tolerance as well. The inherently radiation tolerant quantum dots can be used to take advantage of thermal assist in carrier generation which will actually benefit form higher temperature operation. This is extremely important as NASA attempts to increase array specific power with new designs and continues to expand the range of environments to be encountered in future missions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
Successful completion Phase I and Phase II of the proposed work will lead to the development of radiation-resistant thermophotovoltaic cells that will deliver power beyond the realm of any thermophotovoltaic cell that is now available, or under development. Upon achieving this goal, Essential Research plans to enter into licensing arrangement with Emcore Photovoltaic to manufacture and market this product, while working with them for a successful technology transfer and continuing R&D work on the product.