Sandia scientist paving the way for solar energy

Posted on February 17th, 2017 by Spencer R.

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(www.krqe.com)

A local scientists is paving the way when it comes to solar energy. He is hoping we could soon see the technology developed at Sandia Labs in Albuquerque homes.

It is a growing field.

“It works by getting sunlight in and turning it into electricity,” Murat Okandan, mPower CEO said.

Scientist Murat Okandan says people are realizing the benefits of solar energy and are using it more and more, but he says there are limitations.

“The standard cells are fragile and brittle so if you bend and flex them, they’ll break,” Okandan said.

It is why Okandan worked with other Sandia Labs scientists to develop new ways of processing cells.

He calls them Dragon scales. They are flexible, durable, solar cells.

“This will allow you to make it lighter, make it larger areas and fold up into very tight areas lets say for satellites or UAV’s and be able to then fly longer distances or cover larger areas,” Okandan said.

Imagine a version of these prototypes folded up to fit in your backpack. Take it on a camping trip to charge your laptop or phone. Its flexibility even makes it possible to go on clothing.

Eventually, Okandan sees this wrapped around homes or even cars, covering all exposed areas to get the most out of the sun’s rays.

“Having it start here and hopefully go at a much larger scale is a very exciting opportunity,” Okandan said.

This was made possible thanks to a program at Sandia labs. It allows scientists to leave to start their own business with their technology, while guaranteeing their job at the labs for up to three years.

“mPower is taking technology developed at the labs to the energy sector, so its a win-win,” Mary Monson, Sandia National Labs said.

mPower just got its license to commercialize the technology last month. The program at Sandia labs that allowed Okandan to start mPower has also allowed for 46 other tech companies to form in New Mexico.