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Space Solar Cells With A Down-to-Earth Cost

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Science  04 Jan 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6115, pp. 21
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6115.21

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The joke among electrical engineers is that gallium arsenide (GaAs) is the semiconductor of the future and always will be. GaAs has been used for decades to make ultrahigh-efficiency solar cells for spacecraft. But the out-of-this-world cost of GaAs itself makes these too expensive for mass-market uses. Now, researchers may have found a way not only to drop the cost of producing GaAs cells, but to also drop the cost of the power they produce to near that of grid power from fossil fuels.