Collaborative ResearchCollaborative Research

Active Flagship Research Projects


High Efficiency, Lightweight, Radiation-Resistant Space Solar Cells Enabled by 2D Material Based Layer Transfer (2DLT)

MIT Professors: Jeehwan Kim, Eugene Fitzgerald, Jeffrey Grossman

Masdar Institute Professors: Matteo Chiesa, Kin Liao


PV devices for extraterrestrial operation need to be optimized for high specific power and low areal density (kg/m2) due to the limited carry-weight capacity and surface area of the spacecraft. In addition, space PVs require radiation-hardened cells and/or packaging to minimize formation of crystallographic defects from high-energy particle induced ionization events. However, it has been challenging for conventional PV technology to produce space PV that satisfies all of the above requirements.

To address these issues, this project will employ MIT and Khalifa University of Science and Technology’s (KU) revolutionary crystal growth and transfer technology termed remote epitaxy and two-dimensional material-based layer transfer (2DLT) that were previously developed by MIT and KU. In this project, utilizing this method, the PIs will perform remote epitaxy on graphene to produce the optimum combination of materials that can ensure record subcell efficiencies with strong resistance to radiation.

Compared to conventional layer transfer techniques, 2DLT can offer superior transferability and wafer reusability because of precise layer release from the graphene surface, substantially reducing the manufacturing cost. In addition, remote epitaxy forms single-crystalline films on lattice-mismatched substrates with minimum generation of dislocations, permitting unrestricted freedom to design each component in multijunction solar cells. Successful implementation of this project can unlock a practical pathway to obtain highly efficient, lightweight, and radiation hard PVs while accommodating reductions in production cost.


The Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 provides the guidelines for promoting non-oil GDP growth by diversifying Abu Dhabi’s economy for its post-oil future. Several sectors have been prioritized, and this project has relevance for many of them. Within the Energy sector, photovoltaic power generation still requires cost reduction for high efficiency devices targeting niche applications e.g. Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV). This will facilitate the realization of Abu Dhabi’s commitment towards 30% clean energy generation, and promoting the widespread use of photovoltaics in the MENA region. In the Aeronautical area, these photovoltaics act as a direct power supply. Moreover, advanced photovoltaic technology fills the need for IoT device powering with high relevance for the ICT sector. These are only snapshots of some of the merits of lightweight efficient photovoltaic cells.

As part of the “UAE Vision 2021” in the space innovation area, the government launched the Emirates Mars Mission program that coincides with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE. More ambitiously, the UAE has an inspired follow-up to build the first city on Mars by 2071 to celebrate the 100-year national program. All of these initiatives and others will help in the development of national cadres through expansion of the UAE’s space knowledge base by catalyzing the UAE’s existing space industry. This sector is becoming an important economic driver for the UAE GPD growth through a number of initiatives (e.g. MBRSC, Yahsat, UAE Space Agency, etc.) The realization of lightweight, high-efficiency power generation devices is a key ingredient in accomplishing the UAE space ambitions and the development of the country’s human capital.