Solar cells are an important power source for space, and designing solar cells that can withstand extreme conditions (such as exposure to vacuum, intense radiation, and extreme temperatures) while maintaining high performance is critical. Multi-junction (MJ) solar cells based on germanium, gallium arsenide, indium phosphide, and their alloys are commonly used for space applications due to their high efficiency and ability to meet space-related requirements. However, silicon (Si)-based solar cells are expected to become more prevalent in space applications due to their cheaper production cost.
In this project, we will examine the temperature-dependent performance of silicon (Si)-based solar cells between −150 °C and 50 °C under the air mass zero (AM0) spectrum, which is the spectral illumination in space. We will study state-of-the-art, commercial ‘PERC’, ‘TOPCon’, and ‘SHJ’ solar cells to enable fair temperature-dependent specific power (W/kg) comparisons against the more expensive MJ solar cell designs. Depending on project progress, the temperature-dependence of radiation-exposed Si solar cells samples will also be studied. Initial experimental data measured with SPREE equipment have yielded interesting results, prompting a need for the reassessment of physical models to determine open circuit voltage, short circuit current, and fill factor.
Silicon solar cells | Space PV | Modelling and simulations
In this project, you will work with the ACDC Research Group. Our team is made up of over 20 researchers and students. We are a diverse and multi-disciplinary team, specialising in next-gen solar cell measurement and development. The group has a friendly and social atmosphere. We have students who finished a ToR project with us, stayed for their UGrad thesis, and later transitioned to a PhD in the group.
You will work directly with Dr. John Rodriguez and Dr. Anh Le, under the supervision of Prof. Ziv Hameiri. John is a solar cell fabrication specialist with over a decade of PV R&D experience. He served as the ‘passivated contact’ Team Leader at the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) between 2017–2021 and guided the institute’s industrial TOPCon solar cell research, a role which has directly influenced global PV production’s push towards polysilicon-based passivated contacts. Anh is an expert in temperature-dependent lifetime measurements, and a widely cited author for passivated contact characterisation. Many other PV experts will also help and guide you during this project. We will ensure a smooth start and be there to guide you along the way as you develop your own independent research skills.
This research will result in the thorough temperature-dependent I-V characterisation of PERC, TOPCon, and SHJ devices, at AM0 in the temperature range expected for satellite-orbit (approx. −150 °C and 50 °C). These temperature-dependent I-V characteristics and resulting specific power values for Si devices will be compared to literature for cells based on germanium, gallium arsenide, indium phosphide, and their alloys. We will examine – and adjust as necessary – the existing physical models for temperature-dependent Si solar cell I-V characteristics. The characterisation of radiation-exposed Si solar cells as part of this ToR project is also possible if time permits.
There will be opportunities to publish the outcomes as a conference paper or journal paper. Some of our previous ToR students have even presented their work in the USA and Japan! The most important outcome of the project, however, will be you: an undergraduate student who enjoys doing research, equipped with the basic skills needed for a UGrad thesis, PhD, or career in research.