National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Energy Conversion Laboratory (ECL)



The ECL houses laboratory and test facilities that support the research and development of advanced photovoltaic and other power technologies. These technologies include; advanced III-V solar cells, nanoparticle enhanced solar cells, and radioisotope thermophotovoltaics and advanced solar array technology.

The facilities encompass a full range of capabilities: from fundamental materials and device research, to applied research supporting missions currently in development; from devise/component characterization, to environmental testing of solar cells/arrays.


Organometallic Vapor Phase Epitaxy (OMVPE) Facility

  • 1200 sq. ft facility containing two (2) OMVPE reactors.
  • FY05 CoF project renovating the facility including the installation of a state-of-the-art OMVPE deposition system capable of growth on multiple and/or larger substrates and in-situ materials analysis.
  • Commercial Veeco D125 deposition system allows for much quicker transfer of technology to the solar cell industry.
  • Substrate rotation and in-situ analysis capabilities allow for much greater materials uniformity.

Material Analysis and Characterization Equipment

  • Two (2) Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEM)
  • Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDAX)
  • Two (2) X-ray diffraction machines
  • Nomarski Microscopy
  • Hall Effect electrical characterization
  • Polaron electrochemical material analysis
  • Rapid Photoluminescence Mapping
  • Reverse Bias Luminescence Microscopy
  • Fourier Transform IR Spectrometer (FTIR)
  • Photoluminescence lab/equipment

Solar Cell and Array Calibration and Testing Equipment

  • Dual Source Solar Simulator – cells and small arrays
  • Spectral Response Analysis
  • Flash Solar Simulator – larger arrays
  • Lear Jet Calibration Facility
  • High Altitude Balloon Calibration (beginning in CY10)
  • Plasma interaction facility (PIF) for testing of space environmental effects on solar arrays components
  • Dust interaction/solar array test facilit
  • High temperature solar cell stability analysis
  • Space environment design and fabrication

Solar Cell/Thermophotovoltaic (TPV) Processing Facilities

  • Vapor Deposition Lab for contact metallization
  • Photolithography Lab/equipment
  • TPV selective emitter/characterization
  • TPV materials degradation analysis

Research Projects

High Efficiency Solar Cells on Optimum Substrates

  • Development of high efficiency solar cells on lightweight flexible substrates such as molybdenum foil, poly Germanium, and Kapton to increase the specific power

Thermophotovoltaics (TPV)

  • Development of advanced Monolithic Integrated Modules (MIM) for use with the General Purpose Heat Source (GPHS).

Quantum Dot Solar Cells

  • Insertion of nano-materials into the intrinsic region of III-V based solar cells to increase the efficiency and radiation resistance of the devices.

Potential Uses

R&D for Advanced Semiconductor Devices

  • Development of advance photovoltaic devices
  • Deposition of III-V materials for sensors
  • Light Emitting Diode (LED) development

R&D for Advanced Solar Array Concepts

  • Blanket components and array designs
  • NASA, DoD, and commercial mission applications
  • Unique testing methodology development

Point of Contact: Eric Clark, 216-433-3926