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SBIR/STTR

Thin Flexible IMM Solar Array, Phase II

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Thin, flexible, and highly efficient solar arrays are needed that package compactly for launch and deploy into large, structurally stable high power generators. Inverted Metamorphic Multi-junction (IMM) solar cells can enable these arrays, offering higher efficiencies of >33% and lower mass and flexibility, but integration challenges of this thin crystalline cell technology need solution. The Thin Hybrid Interconnected Solar-Array (THINS) technology allows robust and reliable integration of IMM cells into a flexible blanket comprising standardized modules engineered for producibility. The modules support the IMM cell by using multi-functional materials for structural stability, shielding, CTE stress relief, and integrated thermal and electrical functions. The Phase I effort demonstrated the feasibility of key THINS component, including the structurally stabilized IMM cell, and integration with advanced multi-functional substrate and superstrate components, and completed the modularity approach for interfacing into the Roll Out Solar Array (ROSA) deployable structure, while improving standardization and manufacturability. Design evaluation shows figures of merit for array level specific power, including deployable structure, greater than 400W/kg and volumetric efficiency greater than15kW/m^3, significantly higher than current approaches. The low mass and low stowed volume provides a path to package 300kW in a single launch with a deployment approach that uses simple, robust mechanisms. Phase II advances the THINS/ROSA technology, incorporating advanced 4 -Junction IMM solar cells into THINS modules using demonstrated spaceflight qualified materials, testing module coupons in thermal cycling and plasma environments, fabricating a full-scale module to demonstrate automatable manufacturing processes, integrating that module and inactive modules (with cell simulators) into the ROSA deployable structure, and culminating in a full-scale deployment demonstration. More »

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