ARPA-E grant supports UCSC research on high-power 'sun to fiber' solar device

The principal investigators in the "sun to fiber" project are (left to right): Nobuhiko Kobayashi, UCSC; R. Ernest Demaray, Antropy; Ravi Mullapudi, Tango Systems. (Image: UCSC)

Santa Cruz, CA--A $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will support research at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) on the development of optics that concentrate and focus sunlight into an optical fiber. Applications would include photovoltaic conversion, solar lighting, and thermal storage.

The device is based on a thin-film waveguide that collects sunlight and matches the resulting étendue (cross-sectional area of the beam times the solid angle) to the acceptance angle and collection area of an optical fiber with minimum losses.

The project is a collaboration between the Baskin School of Engineering at UCSC and two Silicon Valley companies, Antropy (Los Angeles, CA) and Tango Systems (San Jose, CA). Antropy is the exclusive owner of the basic patents for the technology used in designing and fabricating the new optical device; Tango Systems specializes in production sputtering systems and thin-film deposition services.

The project involves a new way to use solar concentrators, which are typically deployed in massive setups in which a large array of mirrors concentrates solar energy on a linear absorber or a tower. The new plan is to collect concentrated sunlight and transmit it through optical fibers to be stored or used remotely without significant losses.


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