In military devices, battery failure—and hence a loss of communications—could mean life or death. Today's systems also bog soldiers down by forcing them to carry extra power supplies. To put an end to this problem, scientists plan to turn light into energy. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is very much in support of this research. It just gave Konarka Technologies, Inc. (www.konarkatech.com) a contract in excess of $6 million for basic research in developing new materials for hybrid photovoltaic cells.
In this effort, Konarka will lead a consortium of academic and national laboratories. The company also will manage the contract and share the award over five years with research and development partners. Those partners include Arizona State University; University of Delaware; University of Massachusetts, Lowell; the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL); and the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass.