New Alloy's 'Crazy Physics' Could Lead to Photovoltaic Power Source
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Mar. 14 -- Researchers at the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories are exploring the use of an indium gallium arsenide nitride (InGaAsN) alloy as a photovoltaic power source for space communications satellites and for lasers in fiber optics. Sandia physicist Eric Jones said that adding one or two percent nitrogen to gallium arsenide significantly alters the alloy's optical and electrical properties and causes crazy physics to occur, giving the alloy characteristics suitable for satellite photovoltaics and laser applications.
According to Jones, the addition of the nitrogen reduces gallium arsenide's bandgap energy by nearly one-third. In the semiconductor world, this is unheard of, Jones said. The new material allows designers to tailor properties for maximum current production with different bandgaps. This is what makes the material unique.
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