University of Delaware - College of Engineering
ELECTRICAL & COMPUTER ENGINEERING

Research

Computer Systems

Custom instrumentation and power conversion circuits for extremely efficient solar energy conversion

Fouad Kiamilev

Alternative energy is an important research topic these days. University of Delaware is an active participant in this research area. A large group of researchers here is working under DARPA and NSF funding to develop innovative photocell modules that combine multiple photocells in a single module (called multi-junction module). We participate in this groups' effort with two main contributions: (1) develop power-efficient electronic combiner circuits that combine current-mode outputs of individual PV cells inside of a multi-junction module into a single output with energy efficiency of better than 90% and (2) build custom electronics instrumentations that gives our researchers a simple and consistent method of measuring electrical performance of their photocells.

At present, electrical measurements of a single PV cell can be performed using commercial semiconductor test equipment (from companies such as TEKTRONIX or KEITHLEY) or using specialized PV characterization equipment (such as that sold by www.pvmeas.com). However; these instruments are designed to measure one PV cell. To simultaneously characterize 8 PV cells, would require 8 instruments resulting in a large and expensive laboratory setup. We have built a laptop-based instrument that packages this test function into a portable box that can be used for characterization of multi-junction solar cells.

Recent publications

N. Waite and F. Kiamilev, "Novel Circuits for extremely low-power solar energy conversion," invention disclosure submitted on September 7, 2006.


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