IMM-β space solar cells are 33.3% efficient but weigh half as much

Developed by SolAero Technologies, they represent the most advanced commercial product of their kind. They are the most efficient and lightest space solar cells in the world.

Photovoltaic research is reaching new heights every day, but the records set in the labs don’t always make it to market. This is not the case with the new space solar cells developed by SolAero Technologies.

The American company, recently acquired by rocket manufacturer Rocket Lab, has just presented its fourth generation of inverted metamorphic cells (IMM): IMM-β.

The IMM technology, patented by SolAero itself, is based on a multijunction network coupled to a device that concentrates the solar rays. The semiconductors used are more expensive than silicon, but also more efficient, a combination that makes them ideal for space applications.

With the new IMM-β, the company has reached a new milestone: the units have an efficiency of 33.3%. One percentage point higher than the currently produced IMM-α. But the latest generation of space solar cells also offers other improvements.

Such as the ability to withstand radiation with a residual power factor of 87% for a lifetime of 15 years. Or their greater lightness (they weigh 40% less than traditional space photovoltaic cells), which facilitates their integration into satellites, both technically and economically. The IMM-β are undergoing the final qualification tests, with the aim of arriving on the market at the end of 2022.

We are excited to bring this new milestone in photovoltaic performance to market. Working with our colleagues at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), we’re not only bringing the world’s most efficient and lightest space solar cell to market, we’re doing it at the most competitive cost of any technology. IMM to date. IMM-β’s impact on solar arrays and launch mass will make it an attractive option for satellites.

Brad Clevenger, vice president and general manager of Space Systems Power Solutions.

The superior performance of the IMM-β is a mission enabler for many applications in the civil, military and commercial space markets. It is also the next step for future IMM solar cell technologies with even higher performance, cementing SolAero’s leading position in the segment for many years.

Navid Fatemi, Vice President of Business Development at SolAero.


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