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340 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SUSTAINABLE ENERGY, VOL. 4, NO.

2, APRIL 2013
Optimization of Subcell Interconnection for
Multijunction Solar Cells Using Switching
Power Converters
Mohammed Khorshed Alam, Student Member, IEEE, Faisal Khan, Member, IEEE, and
Abusaleh M. Imtiaz, Student Member, IEEE
AbstractA multijunction solar cell can extract higher solar en-
ergy compared to a single junction cell by splitting the solar spec-
trum. Although extensive research on solar cell efciency enhance-
ment is in place, limited research materials are available to iden-
tify the optimum interconnection of multijunction solar subcells
using power electronic circuits. Multijunction solar cells could be
grouped into two main categories: vertical multijunction (VMJ)
solar cells and lateral multijunction (LMJ) solar cells. In this paper,
a detailed study to identify the optimum interconnection method
for various multijunction solar cells has been conducted. The au-
thors believe that the conducted research in this area is very lim-
ited, and an effective power electronic circuit could substantially
improve the efciency and utilization of a photovoltaic (PV) power
systemconstructed frommultijunction solar cells. Amultiple input
dc-to-dc boost converter has been used to demonstrate the advan-
tage of the proposed interconnection technique. In order to ensure
maximum power point (MPP) operation, a particle swarm opti-
mization (PSO) algorithm has been applied needing only one MPP
control for multiple solar modules resulting in cost and complexity
reduction. The PSO algorithm has the potential to track the global
maxima of the system even under complex illumination situations.
A complete functional system with the implementation of the pro-
posed algorithm has been presented in this paper with relevant ex-
perimental results.
Index TermsInterconnection, maximum power point tracking
(MPPT), multijunction solar cell.
I. INTRODUCTION
S
INGLE junction solar cells utilize a fraction of the solar
spectrum depending on the band gap of the material used.
On the other hand, multijunction (MJ) solar cells have evolved
to extract energy froma larger energy band of the solar spectrum
[1][23]. Multijunction solar cells could be grouped into two
main categories depending on the spectrum splitting technique
and orientation of the intermediate junctions: vertical multijunc-
tion (VMJ) solar cells and lateral multijunction (LMJ) solar cells
[7], as illustrated in Fig. 1. In VMJ solar cells, beam splitting is
performed by the subcells itself and the efciency can be as high
as 40.7% under concentrated illumination [3]. VMJ solar cells
Manuscript received October 26, 2011; revised August 05, 2012; accepted
September 29, 2012. Date of publication November 16, 2012; date of current
version March 18, 2013.
The authors are with the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
84112 USA (e-mail: khorshed.alam@utah.edu; faisal.khan@utah.edu;
as.imtiaz@utah.edu).
Color versions of one or more of the gures in this paper are available online
at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.
Digital Object Identier 10.1109/TSTE.2012.2223493
Fig. 1. (a) VMJ solar cell. (b) LMJ solar cell structure.
can be either monolithically grown or mechanically stacked. In
general, VMJ solar cells are more expensive compared to single
junction cells due to the expensive fabrication steps involved in
growing layers of materials with substantial lattice mismatch.
Moreover, strain and interface defects signicantly affect the
fabrication yield and performance of the VMJ solar cells [16].
Monolithically grown VMJ solar cells suffer from current
mismatch, and mechanically stacked VMJ solar cells may over-
come this limitation by inserting nonconductive tunnel junc-
tions between subcells. On the other hand, optical splitter such
as dichroic beam splitting technique is used in LMJ solar cells
in order to split the beam. The subcells in an LMJ solar cell
may be connected externally; therefore, LMJ solar cells and me-
chanically stacked VMJ solar cells provide greater exibility in
terms of interconnection of subcells and material choice issues
and yield higher efciency.
The power output from the solar cells varies with tempera-
ture, illumination, and the electric load connected to the cell.
Therefore, maximum power point tracking (MPPT) is almost
an indispensible part of an efcient solar cell system [24].
Multijunction solar cells are already very expensive, and a
photovoltaic (PV) system designed around multijunction cells
without having an MPPT system is far from an economically
viable solution. It should be noted that the interconnection
technique presented here is applicable for crystalline MJ solar
cells. Therefore, throughout this paper, the term MJ solar cell
will refer to the crystalline MJ solar cell only. A particle swarm
optimization (PSO)-algorithm-based MPPT technique has been
used in this paper where the duty cycles of the dc-to-dc con-
verters are periodically updated with a single MPPT controller
to track the global maximum power point (MPP) of the system.
This paper presents the advancement of the concept de-
scribed in [1] and [2]. In addition, a modied MPPT technique
that signicantly improves the overall system performance
has been implemented. Therefore, this paper is organized in
1949-3029/$31.00 2012 IEEE
ALAM et al.: OPTIMIZATION OF SUBCELL INTERCONNECTION FOR MULTIJUNCTION SOLAR CELLS 341
the following manner: a) present state-of-the-art LMJ solar
cells and VMJ solar cells is presented in Sections II and III,
respectively; b) the proposed interconnection technique for
MJ solar cells is presented in Section IV; c) the detail of the
PSO technique is discussed in Section V; d) the simulation
and experimental results are presented in Sections VI and VII,
respectively; e) a brief comparison with conventional solutions
is shown in Section VIII; f) the effect of partial shading is
discussed in Section IX; and g) the summary of the paper is
presented in Section X.
II. LMJ SOLAR CELL INTERCONNECTION
The design of the subcells in the LMJ solar cell can be in-
dependent [7], [12][15] or interconnected [6]. Two indepen-
dent solar cells with their characteristics under full spec-
tral illumination and with split beam illumination are shown in
Fig. 2. The GaAs solar cell has higher energy band gap than
the silicon solar cell. Therefore, the GaAs solar cell is intended
to absorb the energy from the higher energy photons and Si
solar cell absorbs the lower energy photons. The amount of
power gain achieved using the beam splitting technique is also
shown in Fig. 2. An LMJ solar cell fabrication process using
Zn Cd S Se has been demonstrated in [6], and a spatial
composition grading is achieved across a single wafer (
, ). This resulted in a band gap from 1.7 eV(CdSe)
to 3.6 eV (ZnS).
As the beam splitting is performed by the optical instruments,
the LMJ solar cell is free from lattice and current mismatches.
The theoretical absorption efciency could be 100% with in-
nite band splitting. The efciency could be as high as 69% for
three subcells, and this efciency gure is astonishingly 86%
for ten subcells. Because the efciency does not increase in pro-
portion with the number of subcells, a compromise is made be-
tween the efciency and cost ($/W). However, the lateral split-
ting is more feasible in space applications if combined with solar
ux concentration techniques [14]. Due to the logarithmic rela-
tionship between the increase in efciency and solar concen-
tration, it is possible to achieve reasonable efciency with the
same number of subcells even at low concentration (between
10 and 100 ) [12], and the optical splitter may be integrated
with the static solar concentrator [7]. In addition, the need for
tunnel junction is eliminated as the subcells in the LMJ solar
cell can be connected independently.
Because unique contact metallurgy is required for each ele-
ment, the design-complexity could be greatly reduced by elimi-
nating tunnel junctions. Despite these advantages, the intercon-
nection technique for LMJ solar cell has not been optimized
yet, and this is possibly because of the lack of information ex-
change between the solar cell designers and researchers in the
power electronics community. In [15] and [25], an interconnec-
tion technique has been proposed where subcells constructed
from the same materials are connected in series strings, and
strings of subcells constructed from different materials are con-
nected in parallel to achieve a nearly voltage-matched intercon-
nection. In spite of achieving several advancements, this solu-
tion does not optimize the MPPT operation.
Fig. 2. (a) characteristics and (b) power curve of a GaAs subcell. (c)
characteristics and (d) power curve of a Si subcell. (e) Photograph of the actual
multijunction cell assembly (courtesy of Prof. R. Menon and his research group
at University of Utah).
Through the length of this paper, the interconnection issues
will be explained with greater detail. Although researchers have
342 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SUSTAINABLE ENERGY, VOL. 4, NO. 2, APRIL 2013
Fig. 3. VMJ structures (a) monolithically stacked and (b) mechanically
stacked.
already fabricated LMJ cells in the laboratory environment, a
complete optimal solution with an efcient power electronic so-
lution has not been reported yet.
III. VMJ SOLAR CELL INTERCONNECTION
VMJ solar cells can be fabricated in two different ways: either
mechanically stacked or monolithically, as shown in Fig. 3 [19],
[20]. In mechanically stacked VMJ solar cells, multiple subcells
of different materials are manufactured on separate substrates,
and they are stacked vertically resulting in a multiterminal de-
vice. Monolithically grown VMJ solar cells have a series of sub-
cells directly grown on one substrate, and interconnected in se-
ries by electrically conductive tunnel junctions [3][5], [8], [9],
[11].
A monolithically grown VMJ solar cell can be either lattice
matched or metamorphic in design [3], [8], [9]. The metamor-
phic structure provides higher current matching among the dif-
ferent subcells in the VMJ cell structure. However, a better cur-
rent matched structure has been reported in the form of an in-
verted metamorphic structure in [11]. Despite of the above facts,
a complete current matching is unattainable because the subcells
of different materials are connected in series. Moreover, there
are a few combinations of group IIIIV materials that are suit-
able for monolithic VMJ solar cells. It is apparent that the me-
chanically stacked structure provides more exibility in terms
of material selection and interconnection of subcells where MPP
can be achieved for individual subcells. Therefore, this arrange-
ment would be more efcient than the monolithic structure at the
expense of greater system complexity [19], [20]. The complex
fabrication steps involved in mechanically stacked VMJ solar
cells and recent advancement of the key fabrication processes
for monolithically stacked cells have led researchers towards
the monolithic structures. However, the mechanically stacked
VMJ solar cell is still a promising technology and the subcells
can be connected in a similar fashion as in LMJ subcells where
the greatest advantage would be the exclusion of optical splitter
which incorporates a signicant cost for the LMJ structure [7].
Fig. 4. Hybrid MJ structures.
Combining the advantages of both LMJ and VMJ solar cells,
a hybrid structure has been proposed in [12], [17], [22], [23], and
[37]. In these structures, the beam splitting may be performed in
different stages, as shown in Fig. 4. The hybrid structure individ-
ually facilitates the optimization needed for the monolithically
grown VMJ solar cells and the optical elements. The efciency
can be as high as 50% because optical losses and the fabrication
constrains are optimized in this hybrid layout [12]. Moreover,
the interconnection can also be optimized in system level where
the subcells are mechanically stacked as presented in [22].
Although, a substantial effort is in place to improve the ef-
ciency of multijunction solar cells, only a few research ini-
tiatives were taken to identify the most efcient interconnec-
tion of the subcells using suitable power electronic converters.
Multijunction solar cells having independent subcells can be in-
terconnected to accomplish a completely matched interconnec-
tion. In addition, subcells made from similar materials can be
connected in series to form a string to build up the voltage for
suitable power electronic conversion, and identical strings can
be connected in parallel to increase the power output.
In this paper, an MJ solar cell with four different subcells
consisting of GaInP, GaAs, GaInAsP, GaInAs have been con-
sidered, and this paper presents a completely matched intercon-
nection in terms of terminal voltage and string current using a
multiple input dc-to-dc boost converter. Although the design has
been considered for four specic subcells, it is compatible with
any number of subcells, and can be extended for higher num-
bers of subcells without any apparent limitations.
IV. PROPOSED INTERCONNECTION TECHNIQUE
Solar cells in a power generation system are usually inter-
connected to achieve the desired open circuit voltage and
short circuit current compatible with the power converters
used [31]. Typically, solar cells are connected in series (typically
3650 cells) to form a string, and multiple strings are connected
in parallel to form a higher current rating module, as shown in
Fig. 5. The output voltage and current of the module are very
sensitive to solar cell mismatches and partial shading. The main
ALAM et al.: OPTIMIZATION OF SUBCELL INTERCONNECTION FOR MULTIJUNCTION SOLAR CELLS 343
TABLE I
SUBCELL MATERIAL, BAND GAP ENERGY, AND SUMMERY OF THE PROPOSED INTERCONNECTION
Fig. 5. (a) String and module formation; (b) interconnection of modules for
higher power output.
disadvantage of series connection of solar cells is the inability to
operate at optimum point during partial shading, and the perfor-
mance of the module signicantly degrades. As an example, if
3650 solar cells are connected in series as shown in Fig. 5, and
only one cell is partially shaded by 50%, the overall power may
decrease to 50% [38]. However, the insertion of bypass diodes
gives some advantages of protecting the shaded cell from ex-
cessive heating that may cause a permanent damage to the cell.
Usually one bypass diode is connected across every 510 solar
cells in the string [32].
Power generated from the nonshaded cells can pass across
the shaded cells through the bypass diode arrangement [41].
Although this method provides protection to a certain level
and helps to prevent drastic rise in temperature in that string,
it is not completely immune to partial shading, and therefore
suffers from degraded module performance. Several methods
to address this problem have been demonstrated in [32][34].
Although highly paralleled congurations exhibit superior per-
formance in partial shading or uctuating irradiance conditions,
the comparatively low open circuit voltage or MPP
voltage is not suitable for efcient power conversion
for power generation, and their use is typically limited to
portable or low power systems. Therefore, the interconnection
shown in Fig. 5(a) is capable of supplying small amount of
power suitable for standalone operation or charging a battery.
In order to produce higher power from a PV system, the PV
modules are interconnected in a series-parallel combination to
boost the output power, and this concept is similar to intercon-
necting solar cells [31], [32]. There may be number of PV
modules in series in each of number of parallel connections
in a solar panel as shown in Fig. 5. In case of a completely
matched situation, the terminal voltage would be times the
voltage across each module, the current would be times of
each module, and the power would be times each
modules power. However, this theoretical limit is not typically
achieved in practice. There is a diode in series of each string
of the modules to conrm unidirectional power ow, and it
prevents power ow from one string of modules to another.
These diodes introduce conduction loss and degrade the overall
efciency.
In [22], the individual subcell characteristics of an MJ solar
cell system are given. Based on this reference and considering
a 20-cm surface area of each subcell, Table I has been formed.
If all subcells with different band-gap energies are connected in
series, current mismatch will reduce the efciency and will re-
sult in a low short-circuit current of the system ( 0.1616 A). In
addition, connecting all subcells in parallel will cause voltage
mismatch and very low output voltage for power conversion
( 0.336 V). In order to avoid current mismatch and to achieve
higher terminal voltage, the subcells constructed from the same
material can be connected in series to form a string and the
strings with similar characteristics can be connected in
parallel without any mismatch, and therefore a module can be
formed. This interconnection will end up having completely
matched modules. Moreover, a highly parallel conguration is
desired [25] to compensate for the effect of partial shading.
Therefore, similar modules should be connected in series-par-
allel combination as shown in Fig. 5(b) for higher power output.
In order to ensure the MPPT operation of individual modules,
multiple dc-to-dc converters are needed to dynamically main-
tain the operating point of the converters when external condi-
tions (temperature, illumination, and loading) are altered. Fig. 6
shows the proposed conguration with four modules connected
to a four input dc-to-dc boost converter ensuring global maxima
of the system, and the multiple input dc-to-dc converter shown
in this gure can be designed for any number of modules. This
feature is important for an LMJ, mechanically stacked or hybrid
MJ solar cell systems. Moreover, this conguration allows sim-
pler gate drive circuit for the switches.
Similar interconnection systems for connecting conventional
solar panels have been discussed in [26][30], and they are
termed as multistring systems. A high efciency (95%) multi-
string converter using similar multiple input dc-to-dc boost con-
verter topology is commercially available [29], [42]. However,
344 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SUSTAINABLE ENERGY, VOL. 4, NO. 2, APRIL 2013
Fig. 6. Proposed interconnection: each module is connected to a separate input of the multiple input dc-to-dc converter.
the interconnection of the subcells of MJ solar cell with suitable
power electronic solution has not been reported yet.
V. THE PSO ALGORITHM
The output characteristics of a PV array depend on several
factors such as temperature, insolation, and the electrical load
connected across the array. Therefore, an MPPT circuit is es-
sential to maximize the power extraction from a PV array, es-
pecially for already expensive MJ solar cells. In conventional
MPP tracking circuits, separate MPP trackers are usually im-
plemented for each dc-to-dc converters. In [24], various MPPT
techniques have been discussed with a comparative study. Most
of the MPPT circuits work with a single converter, and this pro-
posed interconnection will require four MPPT circuits to har-
ness power from four modules of subcells. Eventually, these
multiple MPPT circuits would require four current sensors to
localize the individual MPPs. In order to reduce the cost and
complexity of the system, the global MPP can be achieved by
using only one current sensor at the nal output rather than in-
dividual sensors located at the output of each module. This can
be achieved by using advanced control algorithms. PSO is a
member of swarm intelligence (SI) and appropriate for global
optimization over an -dimensional surface of possible solu-
tions. A PSO approach using only one MPPT instead of two
has been discussed in [36], where the voltage information of
the dc-to-dc converters is continuously updated. Moreover, PSO
has the capability of bypassing the local MPPs and tracking the
global MPP under complex illumination [36]. The PSO algo-
rithm used here can be applied for interconnections among sub-
cells of LMJ solar cells, mechanically stacked VMJ solar cells
and hybrid MJ solar cells.
The PSO algorithm applied in the proposed circuit updates
the duty cycle of four single input dc-to-dc converters (indi-
vidual inputs of a multiple input dc-to-dc converter) connected
to the corresponding modules, and each module consists of sub-
cells with matching characteristics. Although the subcells
in a module are electrically matched, the characteristics of
individual modules could widely vary, and the multiple input
dc-to-dc converter is used to address this variation. The duty ra-
tios ( ) of the single input dc-to-dc converters are varied so that
the global maxima of the system can be tracked. PSO is a com-
putational technique, where global maximum is searched by a
number of agents with a continually updated velocity controlled
by previous search of that agent and social interaction among
the agents. Therefore, every PSO implementation requires ex-
tensive and iterative computations to decide the number of re-
quired agents and the weights to be used to update the velocity
of the agents.
The owchart of the PSO algorithm used in the proposed
system is shown in Fig. 7. Five agents are used to search the
global maxima. The initialization of the agents is shown in
Table II.
Duty cycles of an agent are grouped in a position vector
as follows:
(1)
The subscript indicates the duty cycles of the th agent at
the th iteration and is the duty cycle of the th converter for
agent , and is the total number of agents. Equation (2) has
been used to update the position of the th agents:
(2)
where is the position vector corresponding to the
maximum power achieved by the agent , and is the
position vector corresponding to the maximum power ever
achieved by any agent. are weight constants and
are random values (0 to 1). is the inertia coefcient
of the agent, and and are factors that decide how fast
the agents will move towards the agents maximum point and
ALAM et al.: OPTIMIZATION OF SUBCELL INTERCONNECTION FOR MULTIJUNCTION SOLAR CELLS 345
Fig. 7. PSO algorithm.
TABLE II
INITIAL DUTY CYCLES FOR DIFFERENT AGENTS
the global maximum point. Therefore, assigning values for
constant is crucial for searching global maxima and
convergence of the algorithm. Variation in duty cycle is limited
to 0.2 to 0.8, and the global as well as agents maximum values
are updated once the change in the output power is larger than
the allowed maximum power variation.
VI. SIMULATION RESULTS
Simulation is performed for four solar modules in PSIM with
a functional model of solar cells as demonstrated in Table I. The
MPP voltages and currents are estimated by matching the ll
factor of the corresponding subcells. The MPPT algorithm is
written in inside PSIM using the simplied block, and the
obtained simulation results are shown in Fig. 8. In this simula-
tion, the values of the constants are set as shown in Table III. The
parameters of different components of the power converter were
taken fromthe datasheet of the components used for building the
prototype. From Fig. 8(a), it is apparent that all the agents are
moving towards the peak power and they settle down near the
global maxima. The duty cycle variation of the dc-to-dc con-
verters is also shown in Fig. 8(b).
Fig. 8. Simulation results: (a) variation of output power versus time; (b) vari-
ation of duty ratio of the dcdc converters versus time.
TABLE III
CONSTANTS FOR PSO ALGORITHM
VII. EXPERIMENTAL SETUP
As a proof of concept, four solar modules were built using
commercially available crystalline silicon solar cells to mimic a
four-junction MJ cell system. The experimental setup is shown
in Fig. 9. A 60-V 3-A Schottky diode (MBR360) was placed in
series of each of these four modules to block the reverse current
ow, and synchronous rectication topology was used to min-
imize the power loss across the diode of the boost converters.
IRFI4410ZPbF MOSFETs and MBR360 diodes were used as
switching devices in the proposed circuit, and an IRS2108 boot-
strap gate driver provided the necessary gate signals for the
high and low side MOSFETs in each switching pair. Inductors
and in Fig. 6 were implemented using 390 H induc-
tors, and both and were 780 H in order to ensure con-
tinuous conduction. All the inductors were implemented using
2100LL-391-H-RC.
The algorithm was implemented in dSPACE 1104 system,
and the switching frequency of the converters was set at 5 kHz.
The duty ratio was updated every 0.2 s. The output voltage was
kept constant at 6.5 V using a switch mode power supply, and a
xed resistor of 2.5 was used as the load. In this way, a dc bus
was created with two sources and a load. The output current of
the converter was measured using an LTS 6 current transducer,
and the experimental results are shown in Fig. 10. The mea-
sured voltages and currents of the solar modules are listed in
Table IV, and the maximum power delivered by all four mod-
ules was 14.28 W. It should be noted that the straight line shown
in Fig. 10(a) indicates the summation of the maximum powers
346 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SUSTAINABLE ENERGY, VOL. 4, NO. 2, APRIL 2013
Fig. 9. (a) DCDC converters with control circuits; (b) experimental setup.
delivered by four solar modules. The efciency of the MPPT al-
gorithm has not been considered here, and the reason has been
explained in the later part of this section. Moreover, the simula-
tion results shown in Fig. 8 incorporate the MJ solar cell system
summarized in Table I, and the experimental results shown in
Fig. 10 incorporate the proof of concept modules built using
the commercially available crystalline solar cells. These results
have been summarized in Table IV. The measured efciency
of the converter with this loading was 84.6% at
steady-state.
The multiple input dc-to-dc converter shown in Fig. 6 consists
of four single input dc-to-dc boost converters, and the output
terminals of these single input boost converters are connected in
parallel. The efciency of the multiple input dc-to-dc converter
depends on the operating points of the individual single input
dc-to-dc converters. The overall efciency can be written as
(3)
where is the efciency of the multiple input dc-to-dc
converter, and is the efciency of the th single input dc-to-dc
boost converter. and are the input power of the th single
input dc-to-dc converter and summation of the input power of
the individual single input dc-to-dc converters, respectively.
is the output power of the multi-input dc-to-dc converter.
is the number of single input dc-to-dc converters with paral-
leled output.
It is possible to design a dc-to-dc boost converter so that it
operates near its peak efciency at the MPP of the connected
Fig. 10. Experimental results: (a) variation of output power versus time;
(b) variation of duty ratio of the dcdc converters versus time.
TABLE IV
MEASURED VOLTAGE AND CURRENT OF THE SOLAR MODULES
DURING THE EXPERIMENT
solar module. The efciency of the individual single input
dc-to-dc boost converters were measured at different load cur-
rents, although the output voltage was maintained at a steady
6.5-V level. The efciency versus load current of individual
single input dc-to-dc converters are shown in Fig. 11. The con-
duction loss in the series resistance of the inductor and the con-
duction losses of diodes and MOSFETs increase as the load
current increases. Therefore, the efciency of individual single
input dc-to-dc converter decreases with increased load current.
Converters 3 and 4 have two inductors in series resulting in
higher overall conduction loss. Therefore, the efciency of Con-
verters 3 and 4 decreases more rapidly compared to Converters
1 and 2 for the same variation in the load current. From the ob-
served results it is apparent that the overall efciency can be
improved by a better hardware implementation.
The experiment was performed outdoor with continuously
varying illumination. Therefore, it was not possible to measure
the steady-state efciency of the PSOalgorithmwhen it was im-
plemented with real solar cells. However, emulators were used
in a controlled environment to determine the efciency of the
algorithm. Each of the solar modules listed in Table IV was em-
ulated using a bench top power supply in series of a resistor,
ALAM et al.: OPTIMIZATION OF SUBCELL INTERCONNECTION FOR MULTIJUNCTION SOLAR CELLS 347
Fig. 11. Efciency versus load current curve of individual single input dc-to-dc
boost converters.
and the voltage and resistance of each emulator was selected
such that the MPP of this orientation matches the values shown
in Table IV. The efciency of the PSO algorithm thus measured
using emulators was found to be 96.7%. This efciency is highly
dependent on the value of the constants , , and , and this
MPP tracking efciency may vary by a fair amount for the orig-
inal MJ solar cell implementation. Therefore, the MPP tracking
efciency can be maximized by selecting proper values of these
constants.
Due to the unavailability of the commercially available MJ
solar cells, experiments were performed using commercially
available crystalline silicon (single junction) solar cells. There-
fore, the results obtained here may not match the dynamic be-
havior of the true MJ solar cell system. However, the method
presented in this paper explores the feasibility of the architec-
ture proposed in Fig. 6which represents a true MJ PV system.
An effective implementation of this system can be realized
using many commercially available microcontrollers [44]. The
cost of the microcontroller is considered as a xed cost and has
small contribution towards the total system cost. Moreover, a
high efciency (95% peak) multistring power converter with
built-in MPPT is already commercially available by SMA, and
it is named the Sunny Boy Multistring [29], [42] system. The
true implementation of subcell interconnection of different MJ
solar subcells and interfacing with the power converters can be
left as a future research. It is possible to observe the dynamic
performance of the MJ solar cells with the future implementa-
tion as well.
VIII. COMPARISON WITH CONVENTIONAL INTERCONNECTION
TECHNIQUES
In order to make a fare comparison with other possible inter-
connections, the components of the power converter in PSIM
have been simulated as ideal ones. The resulted output voltage
and current ratings by series connecting all the subcells of each
module listed in Table I are shown in Table V. In PSIM, these
four modules are connected in series in order to build a system
where all the subcells are connected in series, and the maximum
power output from the series interconnection of all the subcells
was found to be 11.88 W. In contrast, the power output from the
proposed interconnection using PSIM simulation was found to
be 17.47 W with PSO applied. Therefore, in the proposed in-
terconnection, it yielded 47.05% additional power compared to
the conventional nonoptimized solution. Considering 6 hours of
average insolation, it will result in approximately 681 kWh of
TABLE V
SUMMARY OF SERIES INTERCONNECTION OF ALL SUBCELLS
TABLE VI
SUMMARY OF OPEN CIRCUIT VOLTAGE MATCHED INTERCONNECTION
OF ALL SUBCELLS
energy gain per year for a 1-kW unit. In the second phase, the
subcells constructed from the same material were connected in
such a way that the open circuit voltages of four modules match
the best [15], [25]. The resulted voltage and current ratings of
these modules are shown in Table VI, and these modules were
connected in parallel. The maximumpower output of the system
from PSIM simulation was found to be 15.78 W, and therefore,
the proposed interconnection still provides 10.71% power gain.
This amount of efciency enhancement is really signicant in
solar power systems in critical applications such as in a battle-
eld of scientic expedition. The above comparisons are per-
formed using PSIM simulations considering ideal dc-to-dc con-
verters. In practice, the efciency of the converter will affect the
power gain magnitudes.
IX. EFFECT OF PARTIAL SHADING
The effect of partial shading in an MJ solar cell system
might be different from multistring solar systems constructed
from single junction solar cells. The subcells of a mechani-
cally stacked MJ solar cell or LMJ solar cell share the same
incident solar beam. Therefore, any partial shading will affect
all the subcells of the MJ cell under partial shading. As the
subcells are part of different modules, all the modules will be
affected. This phenomenon is illustrated in Fig. 12. Therefore,
partial shading will have more power degrading impact on the
MJ solar cell system discussed here compared to multistring
system of single-junction solar cells. However, most of the
concentrated PV (CPV) MJ solar cells system comes with a
concentrator system with homogenizer. The homogenizer is
used to improve ux uniformity, and it compensates for the
misalignment, reduces chromatic aberration, and compensates
for focusing errors [43]. The layout of a typical homogenizer
system has been shown in Fig. 13 which can potentially solve
the partial shading problem.
X. CONCLUSION
The efciency of crystalline multijunction solar cells is much
higher than the single junction solar cells, and the use of MJ
348 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SUSTAINABLE ENERGY, VOL. 4, NO. 2, APRIL 2013
Fig. 12. Effect of partial shading on proposed MJ solar cell system. Partial
shading will affect all the modules.
Fig. 13. MJ solar cell system with homogenizer in order to mitigate the effect
of partial shading.
solar cells is gradually increasing due to new material combina-
tions, advancement in concentrator materials and optical split-
ting techniques, and progress in fabrication processes at the cost
of reasonably increased price. In this paper, a subcell intercon-
nection technique for different crystalline MJ solar cells has
been presented. Due to higher $/watt, the application of these
MJ solar cells is limited to aerospace application and concen-
trated PV (CPV) systems [39], [40]. The ongoing research on
MJ solar cells is in place to enhance the efciency at the cell
level. To the knowledge of the authors, there is no signicant
work done on the optimal subcell interconnection of MJ solar
cells with efcient power electronic solution. The identication
of the optimum subcell interconnection for multijunction solar
cells using suitable power electronic circuit is the main consider-
ation of this work. It has been shown that the proposed intercon-
nection will result in achieving a completely matched subcell
interconnection system for different multijunction solar cells.
The possible partial shading scenarios have also been discussed
with tentative solutions.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The authors would like to acknowledge Prof. R. Menon of
University of Utah for his valuable suggestions regarding MJ
solar cells.
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Mohammed Khorshed Alam (S11) received the
B.S. degree in electrical and electronic engineering
from Bangladesh University of Engineering and
Technology, Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2009. Since
2011, he is working toward the Ph.D. degree in
electrical engineering at the University of Utah, Salt
Lake City.
He was Lecturer at Ashanullah University of Sci-
ence and Technology, Dhaka, Bangladesh from 2009
to 2010. His research interest includes renewable en-
ergy harvesting, high power switched-capacitor con-
verters, fault detection, and reliability analysis of circuits.
Faisal Khan (S01M07) received the B.Sc., M.S.,
and Ph.D. degrees from Bangladesh University of
Engineering and Technology, Arizona State Uni-
versity, and University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in
1999, 2003, and 2007, respectively, all in electrical
engineering.
From 2007 to 2009, he has been with Electric
Power Research Institute (EPRI) as a senior power
electronics engineer. Since 2009, he is with the
Electrical and Computer Engineering Department,
University of Utah as an Assistant Professor. His
major area of interest is high-power capacitor-clamped converters. However,
since his appointment at the university, he has extended his research into the
eld of power converter reliability prediction and cell level power converter
design for photovoltaics, especially multijunction solar cells. In addition, he is
also involved with renewable energy research including wind energy harvesting
using split-phase induction generators and grid-tied energy storage.
Prof. Khan is a member of the IEEE Power Electronics Society, Industry Ap-
plications Society, and Industrial Electronics Society. He is the recipient of the
2007 IEEE IAS rst prize paper award for his contribution to high power mod-
ular multilevel dcdc converters. He is the award chair of IEEE ECCE 2012 and
the general chair of IEEE COMPEL 2013 in Salt Lake City.
Abusaleh M. Imtiaz (S11) received the B.S.
degree in electrical engineering from Bangladesh
University of Engineering and Technology (BUET),
Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2009. He is currently working
toward the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering at
University of Utah.
He is the author or a coauthor of more than
10 peer reviewed publications including journals
and conference proceedings. His research interests
include fabrication and characterization of the
state-of-the-art power semiconductor devices and
solar cells, energy management of plug in hybrid vehicles and design of power
converters for renewable energy sources.