Next-Generation, LED-based, Adjustable Spectrum, Pulsed Solar Simulator

Award Information
Department of Energy
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
02 a
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Spire Corporation
One Patriots Park, Bedford, MA, -
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Harvey Serreze
(781) 275-6000
Business Contact:
Mark Little
(781) 275-6000
Research Institution:

Solar simulators are needed for measuring the performance of solar cells and solar panels. These instruments currently use filtered high-intensity xenon lamps with poor spectral control, high voltage transients that can adversely affect electronic control circuits, lamp aging and a lack of easily-implemented size scaling. What is needed is a more reliable, low-voltage solid-state, spectrum-adjustable and size-scalable simulator light source. The proposed new light emitting diode (LED)-based solar simulator will be comprised of commercially-available, reliable, low-voltage LEDs that can be spectrally configured to produce uniform, simulated terrestrial solar illumination, that can be arranged in a tile-like sub-module configuration that lends itself to solar panel size scaling, and that can be electronically operated under user-friendly software control. Phase I successfully demonstrated an operational LED-based solar simulator module and developed software for controlled adjustable spectral output from circuit-board mounted commercial LEDs. Phase II will incorporate low-cost commercially-available LED chips and utilize simple and proven methods of obtaining light delivery to enable fabrication of simulators with uniform illumination, adjustable spectrum, higher reliability and reduced manufacturing cost. At the end of Phase II Spire will have produced an LED-based solar simulator module capable of rapidly testing commercial solar panels. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Solar simulators measure the performance of solar voltaic panels prior to field installation. Consisting of light sources that closely match the solar spectrum, these simulators can test either crystalline or thin film modules, and can be integrated into fully automated solar panel production lines. With continually increasing solar panel sizes, the need for scalable larger area simulators will continue to expand. These new LED-based simulators can also operate in manual mode, thus widening their market to include solar panel production lines and solar cell and solar panel evaluation under laboratory and field operating conditions. The availability of LED-based simulators opens an additional market in solar panel factory replacements. Commercialization of this new simulator will create engineering and manufacturing jobs in support of this new equipment.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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