Collecting solar power in space and transmitting the energy wirelessly to Earth through microwaves enables terrestrial power availability unaffected by weather or time of day. Solar power could be continuously available anywhere on earth.
Our concept is based on the modular assembly of ultralight, foldable, 2D integrated elements. Integration of solar power and RF conversion in one element avoids a power distribution network throughout the structure, further reducing weight and complexity. This concept enables scalability and mitigates local element failure impact on other parts of the system.
Most recently we demonstrated the lightest (by an order of magnitude) integrated multifunctional prototype which collects sunlight, converts it to RF electrical power, then wirelessly transmit that power in a steerable beam.
Our research solves the fundamental challenges associated with implementing space solar by integrating ultralight and shape accurate structures with high efficiency photovoltaics and large scale phased array power transmission into a two dimensional scalable, deployable spacecraft.