For decades, scientists have worked towards creating the perfect solar panel design for the benefit of all of us on Earth. Now, research shows that these supercharged panels could also be a much more out-of-home benefit.
In a new study, a team of German scientists tied four different perovskite and organic solar cells to a rocket and launched it into low-Earth orbit (LOE) to see the solar panels in action. how in non-earth conditions. The flight lasted only seven minutes but the researchers were able to gather some promising hints as to how these panels adjust for change.
These panels do not show a real deterioration in functionality and have even demonstrated a better low-light performance than their heavier inorganic panels. Researchers believe these capabilities could make them the leading candidate for the future of deep space travel.
The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Joule.
In the article, the team explains that the history of solar-powered space flight and testing is, at best, flawed. 1959 saw the launch of the first solar-powered rocket, the Explorer 6; In recent decades, experiments on solar panels in space have been carried out using stratospheric balloons to soar near the Earth’s stratosphere. This is not quite the same as achieving an actual orbit height.
Therefore, it is difficult for scientists to extrapolate how some of the existing studies might be applied to deep space missions. To get a little closer to this fact, this team shot their solar cells around. 149 miles to the sky.
How it works – The missile carrying a series of four ultra-thin solar cells was launched from Sweden in June 2019 for a seven-minute rapid spin around the LOE block. The solar cells on board (or rather, mounted outside the payload) are a combination of perovskite and organic solar cells.
The authors write that these cells are so thin and light (2.2 lbs each) that they can generate enough electricity to provide energy. 300 standard bulbs.
The study’s first author Lennart Reb, a researcher at Technical University of Munich, explains: “This is ten times more than what current technology offers.
However, while these solar panels can make a strong impression on Earth, it is the name of the game to see if they remain effective in space.
After successful launch and landing, in which solar cells survived after physical stress, the team analyzed some promising data from the adventures of solar panels. God. In addition to maintaining their efficiency in the LOE environment, the team also found that the panels can operate in low-light environments, where the only light source is light scattered outside of Earth.
The authors write that this finding not only shows performance far beyond current technology, but also shows the potential for future deep space missions that may have low-light conditions.
“This is a good suggestion and confirmation that the technology could go into what’s called the deep space mission, where you’ll send them out into space, away from the sun, where solar cells are. Standard heaven will not work, “said author and senior researcher of the study at Technical University of Munich, Peter Müller-Buschbaum.
Although not proven by this specific study, previous research has also demonstrated that space (which is inherently much drier than Earth) can actually be good for perovskite solar cells, which are common. environmental degradation problems on Earth.
What’s Next – While these solar cells have great promise in powering deep space missions in a light and inexpensive way, there are also many other factors to consider before these cells. can be loaded onto the next star probe. First, the authors say longer trials will be needed to see how well these panels can hold a long-distance flight (like these deep space missions). . Unfortunately, seven minutes doesn’t quite cut it.
Another thing that future studies will need to consider are the effects of the environment outside of space (i.e. solar radiation and cosmic particles, super high vacuum pressure, and large temperature differences. .) With more and more commercial spacecraft taking off constantly. Data may be collected in a not too distant future.
Abstract: Perovskite and organic solar cells have revolutionary potential for aerospace applications. Thin-film solar cells can be processed on thin polymeric foils allowing a particular capacity to be produced, i.e. the electrical power obtained per mass, is superior to the types. their inorganic batteries. However, up to now, research on spatial application is mainly confined to terrestrial conditions. Here, we report the launch of perovskite and different structured organic solar cells on a missile flight under orbit. This is a spot demonstration of their function and ability to generate electricity in spatial terms. We measured the current-voltage characteristics of a solar cell in varying lighting states due to different rocket directions during flight. Under strong solar radiation, solar cells are efficient, and they even generate energy with weak diffused light reflected from the Earth’s surface. These results highlight both the suitability for near-Earth applications as well as the potential for the deep space missions of these innovative technologies.