Advanced multi-junction solar cells with high efficiency

It is expected to meet the power needs of next-generation military spacecraft.


Specialists at the Air Force Research Laboratory keep on expanding the extent of their mechanical mastery, transcending the Earth’s surface to meet the power needs of the cutting-edge military shuttle.

A cooperative exertion between the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing and Space Vehicles Directorates, the Space Industrial Base Working Group and SolAero Technologies has brought about best in class, multi-junction solar cells bound to decrease expenses and increment control productivity for military space applications.

These are the most progressive, productive and moderate solar cells accessible for use in space. These cells give 15 percent more power than current condition of-hone solar cells of a similar size. Eventually, you can get a similar measure of energy utilizing fewer cells, leaving more mass and space for different applications on a space-based stage.

As both military and non-military personnel populaces keep on relying all the more intensely on space-based applications for GPS, interchanges and that’s only the tip of the iceberg, satellites conveying these payloads require expanded energy to convey extra capacities. Expanding power while diminishing mass and lessening cost has been a continuous assembling challenge. What’s more, the unforgiving working states of the space condition, with extremes of warmth and cool and elevated amounts of radiation, require materials that can persevere through the instability over long haul utilize.

Advanced multi-junction solar cells with high efficiency
Inverted Metamorphic Multi-Junction (IMM) Solar Cells
SolAero Technologies Courtesy Photo

Silicon solar cells, which are essentially utilized for earthbound applications, are reasonable with regards to solar cell innovations, be that as it may, even the most productive silicon-based solar oriented boards just change over around 20 to 25 percent of daylight to power. Silicon solar cells are to a great degree delicate to radiation in space and experience extreme productivity debasement after some time.

By differentiating, present-day shuttle supports the utilization of multi-intersection solar cells that exploit various layers of light-engrossing materials, each of which productively changes over particular wavelength districts of the solar range into vitality. These phones, ordinarily developed on germanium substrates, are more productive than silicon and considerably more tolerant of radiation in the space condition.

In any case, in spite of the expanded yield empowered by these sorts of cells, expanding payload control needs and points of confinement in mass and volume of cutting-edge shuttle require proceeded with an improvement of more proficient, lighter cells of this kind.

To explain the effectiveness and mass needs of the space group, a coordinated effort between AFRL, the U.S. government, and industry was propelled and eventually prompted the improvement and refinement of another cell design that exploits a topsy-turvy development procedure to fabricate multi-intersection cells. The procedure brings about what is called Inverted Metamorphic Multi-Junction (IMM) solar cells, which are more proficient and a lighter weight than multi-intersection cells as of now being used.

Kerry Bennington, an electronics engineer in the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate said, “We (AFRL) began looking at this specific technology back in the mid-2000s, recognizing that increasing power needs of spacecraft would require more efficient solar technologies. The challenge was to efficiently and cost-effectively grow IMM cells qualified for use in space.”

“We found that by growing cells upside down on gallium arsenide, we can more effectively tailor the material properties of the individual absorbing layers. This results in the more effective utilization of the solar spectrum and produces cells with significantly better performance. By removing the rigid growth substrate, we end up with a cell that is lightweight and extremely flexible. A single IMM cell can convert more than 32 percent of captured sunlight into energy.”

“The new IMM solar cells are able to achieve a 15 percent increase in power when compared with a same-sized array of standard practice multi-junction cells. This enables engineers to decrease the mass and area of a solar array and still achieve the same power, leaving more space for other applications on a space platform.”