Rocket Lab reveals space solar cell with 33.3% efficiency

Mar 11, 2022 03:09 PM ET
  • The brand-new tool is based on an upside down metamorphic multi-junction (IMM) cell modern technology created by Rocket Lab's unit Solaero. The cell can be made use of in applications in the civil, military, and also commercial space markets.
Rocket Lab reveals space solar cell with 33.3% efficiency
Image: Rocket Lab

US-based aerospace maker and little satellite launch company Rocket Lab United States Inc has provided a new space-grade solar cell based upon a cell technology established by space solar cell manufacturer Solaero, which it obtained in December.

The brand-new product, called IMM-β, is a development of Solaero's upside down metamorphic multi-junction (IMM) solar cell, based on indium gallium phosphide (InGaP) and gallium arsenide (GaAs) and also developed by scientists at the united state Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

" The IMM-β solar cell is expected to be the highest-efficiency space solar cell innovation in high-volume production," the producer claimed in a declaration. "The cell boasts an ordinary 33.3% beginning of life (BOL) effectiveness, up from 32% for the IMM-α that is currently in volume manufacturing."

According to Solaero's site, the IMM-α solar cell has a thickness of 150μm as well as a mass of 49mg/cm2, which represents a 42% reduction as contrasted to standard multi-junction, space-grade solar cells.

The new cell can be used in applications in the civil, military and commercial space markets. "The IMM-β is also a radiation-hard cell with a power staying element of 87% after direct exposure to 1-MeV electrons at a fluence of 1E15 e/cm2 or matching of around 15 years life," Rocket Lab specified. "Currently going through last space certification screening, the cells are expected to be prepared for commercial use later in 2022."

"In partnership with our colleagues at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), we're not just commercializing the globe's highest efficiency and also lightest weight space solar cell, we're doing so at one of the most affordable cost of any type of IMM innovation to date. IMM-β's effect on solar array and also launch mass will certainly make it an engaging option for satellite integrators," stated Solaero CEO Brad Clevenger.

Solaero operates an 11,000 m ² production facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where it generates various sort of space solar cells.

These include a 30%-effective four-junction device on a germanium substrate; a 30.2%-reliable triple-junction solar cell maximized for low planet orbit (LEO) applications; a 29.5%-reliable, typical triple-junction cell based upon indium gallium phosphide (InGaP), indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) and germanium (Ge); a 29.4%-efficient triple-junction gadget based upon a germanium substratum; as well as those IMM-α cell, with an effectiveness of 32%.

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