SSS Optical Technologies, LLC (SSSOT) together with HBCU Research Institution (RI) Oakwood University (OU) and subcontractor Regher Solar, Inc. (RSI) propose to develop the Polymer Anti-damage Nanocomposite Down-converting Armor (PANDA) coating of solar sail-embedded PV cells that, in addition to blocking UV and ionizing radiation and being UV stable, flexible, and light weight, converts UV into visible radiation that matches the responsivity spectrum of the PV cell. This makes possible to generate extra electricity thus improving the overall PV conversion efficiency by up to 5%. PANDA coating uses a polymer nanocomposite impregnated with UV absorbing luminescent quantum dots (QDs) to shield the coating itself and the coated solar cells from UV radiation and increase PV power conversion efficiency. This is achieved by using spectrum downshifting of solar UV radiation in the QDs to visible radiation. The innovativeness of the technology has three features: (1) UV shielding is combined with the use of the UV energy, otherwise wasted, in the production of additional PV electricity; (2) UV shielding also prevents polymer photodarkening, and (3) solar spectrum conversion from UV to visible-NIR is highly efficient. The overall goal is to develop and demonstrate feasibility of a UV stable coating for sail-embedded solar cells that improve PV power output. To reach the goal, the following technical objectives are identified (1) Design and implement spectrum converting QDs and produce PANDA coatings. (2) Enable UV stability of PANDA and its perforamnce as a protector of solar cells from UV radiation and enhancer of PV conversion efficiency. (3) Conduct experiments on both UV stability and conversion efficiency, analyze experimental data and make conclusions on feasibility of the proposed ideas.
If successful, the proposed technology can be implemented as “UV stable thin-film protective coating for sail-embedded power-generation…”, Scope “Next-Generation Solar Sail System Techn.”, topic T5.05 “Advanced Solar Sailing Technologies”, Focus Area 5 “Communications and Navigation”, NASA FY 2022 STTR Solicitation. PANDA can be used to protect solar power blankets within Scope “Photovoltaic Energy Conversion”, Topic S16.01 “Photovoltaic Power Generation and Conversion”, Focus Area 2 “Power, Energy and Storage”, the same NASA Solicitation.
One of the major potential non-NASA applications of PANDA technology is the improvement of the efficiency of solar PV panels while protecting them from solar UV and increasing their lifetime.The customers would be national grids and rural communities and the owners of the cameras, such as the government security facilities, municipalities, and private entities concerned with surveillance.