A study carried out by researchers at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, brought encouraging results regarding the performance of organic solar cells and composed of the perovskite mineral. During the tests, they observed that these cells perform well and are thinner and lighter – characteristics important to space science. The results of the study were published in the journal Joule.
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For the study, these hybrid cells were introduced into the payload of a rocket launched in Sweden, which made a brief suborbital journey at a maximum altitude of 240 km. The solar cells withstood the extreme conditions of launch and flight, and successfully absorbed sunlight in the seven minutes spent in the space environment, showing excellent performance.
The big difference here is this hybrid formation of these solar cells: while the production of silicon solar cells requires complex processes, perovskite cells and semi-organic conductors can be produced more easily. “These organic solutions are very easy to process,” explains Lennart Reb, the study's lead author. "These technologies could open up new application possibilities – and that goes for the aerospace sector as well."
As the test was brief, the researchers intend to extend it to satellites to analyze how cells behave over longer periods. Another interesting factor is that these cells were able to absorb energy even without being directed towards the Sun, that is, they may be able to use even the weakest sunlight – something that traditional solar cells do not do. "This confirms that the technology can go on missions in deep space, where they go far from the Sun, where conventional cells do not work", comments Müller-Buschbaum, professor participating in the study. For him, the future of this type of technology is very exciting, and should bring these cells to more space applications in the future – and, of course, here on Earth as well.