NASA has discovered that perovskite solar cells might be more effective in the vacuum of space than on Earth, showing a slower rate of degradation.
The administration has been actively assessing how perovskite solar cells fare in outer space, specifically concerning their performance and durability. Their research, spanning 10 months, monitored the functioning of these cells on the International Space Station (ISS). They evaluated the resistance of the cells to extreme conditions such as vacuum, intense temperatures, radiation, and light pressure. Remarkably, they found that these perovskite solar cells maintained their dark black color, indicating optimal functioning, even after 10 months in space.
NASA clarified that a dark black color signifies that the perovskite thin film is in its highest possible state of light absorption. A shift towards a yellow hue would mean the crystalline material has decomposed into lead iodide, making it unable to generate power.
The perovskite film was attached to the exterior of the ISS from March 2020 until January 2021, during which it was constantly exposed to the harsh conditions of space. Upon returning it to Earth, the researchers found that the space-traveled perovskite cells surprisingly regained their sunlight absorption capacity when exposed to Earth’s sun, outperforming their earthbound counterparts in the same conditions.
Researcher Lyndsey McMillon-Brown noted that the persistent dark black color of the perovskite film, even after a 10-month stint on the ISS, validates the potential of innovative solar cell materials for future space missions. However, the underlying reason for this resilience remains a mystery.
Going forward, NASA is interested in discovering what specific aspects of the space environment might alter perovskite. McMillon-Brown stated that the survival and, in some respects, the superior performance of perovskite film could open doors to the execution of tasks currently beyond the capabilities of existing solar technologies.
The experiment also corroborated previous research suggesting that the absence of moisture and oxygen outside Earth’s atmosphere actually benefits perovskite cells. This hints at their potential suitability for space applications without significant alterations. Next, the team aims to explore the possibilities of operating perovskite cells in space over a prolonged period.
(Image Source: NASA)