Scientists have discovered a new way to protect perovskite solar cells in space, according to a study recently published by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Perovskite solar cells are becoming increasingly popular due to their affordability and lightweight compared to other technologies used in space. Now, this newly-developed protective coating can help keep them functioning even in the harsh environment of space.
The research paper, titled “Metal oxide barrier layers for terrestrial and space perovskite photovoltaics,” has revealed that an ultrathin layer of silicon oxide – just one micron thick – can safeguard the perovskite solar cells from being damaged or degraded when exposed to radiation, atomic oxygen, vacuum, and high temperatures. This incredibly thin layer is about a hundred times thinner than human hair. It can drastically reduce the weight of conventional radiation barriers used for other types of solar cells.
Lead author Ahmad Kirmani expressed his enthusiasm over the results of this research. He stated: “Power conversion efficiency and operational stability of perovskite solar cells have been the two primary focus areas for the community so far. We have made a lot of progress, and I think we have come far to the point that we might be pretty close to hitting those targets needed for industrialization. However, to really enable this market entry, the packaging is the next target.”
Space-based solar power involves collecting solar energy in orbit using satellites and then sending it back to Earth – an endeavor currently being actively explored by countries like the US, China, the UK, France, and Japan. It could provide clean energy with minimal environmental impact and increased efficiency compared with traditional ground-based sources. The results of this study make space-based solar power more accessible than ever before.
This protective layer makes such projects more feasible and offers long-term protection for these solar cells when used on Earth; its lifetime could be extended from months to years thanks to its shielding effect against radiation damage. The researchers behind this paper are from NREL, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of North Texas. And one researcher even works with NASA while doing postdoctoral work at NREL.
Developing such protective coatings could prove crucial in unlocking more efficient ways of harnessing clean energy from Earth-based sources and those located in orbit around our planet – making renewable energy more accessible than ever before while reducing emissions significantly at the same time.
Jonas Muthoni is an entrepreneur and renewable energy expert. He is the founder of MicroGridMedia.com, a website dedicated to bringing the latest news and information about solar energy and other renewable energy sources to the public. Jonas is passionate about promoting sustainable energy solutions and educating the public about the benefits of renewable energy. He is a regular speaker at industry events and conferences and is committed to driving the transition to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.