DuPont will manage the prototype phase and testing of a solar cell technology for a federally funded consortium of industry and universities. The research is part of the DuPont-University of Delaware Very High Efficiency Solar Cell (VHESC) consortium. The federal government's Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded the consortium $12.2 million as part of a three-year program that could total $100 million. The announcement of the program follows the University of Delaware's demonstration of a viable design for solar cells with a potential efficiency increase of 30 percent.
DuPont is contributing eight key materials used in solar panels. DuPont will also manage the consortium's work to optimize the VHESC solar cells for efficiency and cost.
The consortium will initially focus on the development of affordable portable chargers based on ultra-high efficiency solar cells that allow readily deployable recharging of batteries. The proposed system is designed to offer significant improvements in solar cell efficiency compared to existing battery chargers. DARPA contributed to the effort because the program aims to dramatically improve mobility on the battlefield. Presently, American soldiers carry 20 lb of battery supplies. The new technology is designed to give soldiers more power with less weight.