ARC Future Fellowships rocket powers race for affordable, light-weight solar-for-space rockets – pv journal UK

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Alan Tudge, Australia's Minister for Education and Youth, announced new grant results for the ARC Future Fellowships program last week. Fellow Anita Ho-Baillie will apply her work on the durability and resilience of perovskites directly to fuel the space effort at lower cost.

August 16, 2021

Sydney University Professor Anita Ho-Baillie has received more than $ 1 million in Future Fellowships from the Australian Research Council (ARC) to expand her cited research on perovskite solar cells and develop space-worthy photovoltaics that “cost billions of dollars could result in “savings for the satellite market” as well as the profitability of future space probes, Mars rovers and lunar mining, USyd said in an announcement last week.

Although space hardware is already largely powered by photovoltaics, existing technologies are heavy and expensive to manufacture compared to the promises of perovskites, which use cheaper component materials and offer higher power to weight ratio – critical for devices that must be launched against Earth's gravity and travel long distances to reach their destination or to efficiently orbit the earth.

The ARC Future Fellowships program is intended to “support outstanding scientists in the middle career area in doing high-quality research in areas of national and international benefit”.

Last year, Ho-Baillie, the first John Hooke Chair in Nanoscience at the University of Sydney, was one of a group of scientists from the University of New South Wales and USyd who claimed a World first in the global effort to develop durable metal halide perovskite solar cells when their perovskites passed the International Electrotechnical Commission's rigorous testing standards for heat and humidity.

In contrast to silicon solar cells, perovskites, which are often referred to as the “next generation” of low-cost solar technology, have not yet been manufactured in such a way that silicon can withstand permanent environmental pollution.

Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to identify the decomposition pathways of hybrid perovskites, the scientists found last year that encapsulating the cells in glass in combination with an inexpensive synthetic rubber or a polyolefin-based polymer provides excellent durability that meets the requirements of the IEC61215: 2016 Dam heat and moisture freeze tests.

Ho-Baillie said at the time: “Perovskite cells have to meet current commercial standards. That is the exciting thing about our research. We have shown that we can drastically improve their thermal stability. “

Use in space will expose the metal halide perovskites being developed by Ho-Baillie to different and sometimes much harsher conditions than on Earth.

Your goal is “To develop and demonstrate perovskite solar cells to achieve high areal power conversion efficiencies and long operating lifetimes that can withstand the space environment,” says the ARC.

Perovskites are a universal focus

Ho-Baillie's is one of 100 ARC Future Fellowships projects that have received more than US $ 93 million in awards in a broad academic field. The successful projects account for only 15% of the applications received.

The announcement of ARC funding for this project comes just days after the Australian Science Agency CSIRO announced a partnership with Adelaide-based space transportation company Space Machines Company (SMC) is testing the CSIRO's perovskite-based cell technology – in the form of solar inks printed on flexible plastic film – on SMC's Optimus-1 spacecraft, which will be launched next year.

Other researchers who work in photovoltaics and who were successful in this year's Future Fellowship round are the Associate Professor Tianyi Ma, who will develop perovskite-based ferroelectrics for solar fuel production.

And Dr. Jingwei Hou from the University of Queensland, whose project will investigate a stable and efficient semiconducting composite material consisting of metal halide perovskite embedded in metal-organic framework glass. The composite should contribute to “a new generation of environmentally friendly perovskite components for energy, environmental and health applications,” according to the ARC announcement.

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