In the Journal of Applied Physics, published by AIP, scientists at the University of Cambridge Photovoltaic cell design They proposed radiation-resistant, which has an ultra-thin layer of light-absorbing materials.
Most space satellites are powered by photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity; But exposure to certain types of radiation in low Earth orbit can damage the electronic hardware of these satellites, reduce their performance, and limit their lifespan.
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Implications of thinner photovoltaic cells
When sunlight is absorbed by these cells, its energy is converted into negatively charged electrons in the material. These released charge carriers drive the electric current throughout Photovoltaic cells they produce. The radiation in the space by moving the atoms of the solar cells damages their lifespan and reduces their efficiency. Therefore, the thinning of photovoltaics should also increase their lifespan, because the energy carriers are less far apart.
As low-Earth orbit becomes crowded with satellites, the use of intermediate Earth orbits, such as the Molnea orbit, which passes through the center of the Earth’s proton radiation belt, seems increasingly necessary. Therefore, reaching these higher orbits requires designs that solar cells are more resistant to radiation.
another one of Applications of radiation-resistant cells, the study of other planets and moons. As an example of Europa, Jupiter’s moon has one of the most intense radiation environments in the solar system. Therefore, the landing of a spacecraft in Europe, which has solar panels, requires radiation resistant devices.
Two types of researchers Photovoltaic device made a semiconductor using gallium arsenide. One was an on-chip design made by layering multiple materials in a stack, and another included a silver back mirror to increase light absorption.
How did the scientists test their photovoltaic cells?
To simulate the effects of radiation in space, the devices were bombarded with protons produced at the Dalton Cambrian nuclear facility in the UK. The performance of photovoltaic devices before and after irradiation was studied using a technique called cathodoluminescence, which can show the amount. The amount of radiation damage was measured in a second set of experiments using a compact solar simulator to determine how these devices convert sunlight into energy after being bombarded with protons. Author Armin Bartel says:
Our ultrathin solar cell performs better than previously studied, thicker devices for proton radiation that crosses a certain threshold. In other words, the ultrathin geometries provide better performance than previous observations by two orders of magnitude.
The authors say that the improved performance of this Ultra thin cells This is because the charge carriers live long enough to move between the terminals of the device.
Compared to thicker cells, approximately 3.5 times less coating glass is required for ultra-thin cells to provide the same amount of power after 20 years of operation. This means a lighter load and Significant reduction in launch costs will be.
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