A team working at the University of Syndey in Australia has created next-gen self-healing solar panels that could revolutionize their usage in space-based operations. The new technology utilizes what the researchers call a “miracle material” known as perovskite.
Previously, perovskite has been used to create standard silicon solar cells with increased efficiency. As such, its promise is two-fold, especially if it does indeed have some self-healing capabilities. The team detailed the new solar panels in a study published in Advanced Energy Materials.
This material has long been hailed for its “special” qualities, though it is important to note that no commercial items have been made available that utilize it heavily. That being said, the idea of being able to make self-healing solar panels is intriguing and exciting, especially as more satellites are sure to be sent into space in the coming years.
Being able to cut down on the amount of radiation damage that satellites have to take because repairing objects like satellites is dangerous and challenging would be vital to producing spacecraft that can carry on for much longer in low-Earth orbit before needing to be retired.
The belief is that the degradation caused by radiation in space could be reversed by using a heat treatment on the perovskite solar cells while in the vacuum of space. However, at the moment, the only tests we have to go off of are the miniature tests done using a microprobe that mimicked the proton radiation exposure solar cells typically undergo.
The results are exciting, to be sure, but it will remain to be seen if perovskite solar cells are the basis of self-healing, next-generation solar panels like these scientists believe they are. A proper test on a satellite in space is no doubt needed to prove the actual efficiency of the cells and their self-healing nature.