Georgia Tech researchers and scientists developed 3D solar cells that went to space this weekend on a SpaceX rocket as Inhabitat reports. At the International Space station, the solar cells will be tested to how well they function and how they respond to any space conditions. The solar cells have been designed to capture the sun’s rays from any angle, which will enable a spacecraft to gain more power from a limited surface area.
The experimental solar cell module blasted into space includes four different types of solar cells. One type is traditional planar solar cell and the second one is the planar cell based on a formulation using low-cost materials that include copper-zinc-tin-sulfide. These materials are cheaper than other rare-earth materials like indium and selenium used in some solar cells. There are also 2 types of 3D solar cells – one that is based on CZTS and the other one is based on conventional cadmium telluride. The team have 18 solar cells in total and they will be tested in space for 6 months.
These 3D solar cells can forever change how the spacecraft receive power. The 3D cells by the Georgia Tech boys are dubbed as miniature towers coated with a photo-absorber. Instead of requiring the sun to be right above them to work, the ingenious 3D solar cells can capture sunlight over longer periods of time. Jud Ready, the Georgia Tech Research Institute principal research engineer said in a press release that they want to see both light-trapping performance of their 3D solar cells and how will they respond to the harsh space environment.
After 6 months, the solar cells will go back to earth so scientist can study how they held up in space. According to Ready, if the solar cells survive the return to Earth, counting the radiation, wide temperature swings and other factors, then they can be confident that the solar cells will work well on Earth.
Image credit: Inhabitat