Georgia Tech professor W. Jud Ready's "3-D textured solar cells" were recently accepted by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) for a test mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Tech News Daily reported this week. The textured solar cells, made from carbon nanotubes, will head into space sometime in 2014, where they will experience 16 different "sunrises" per day, in order to test a multitude of configurations.
The solar cells have already outperformed typical solar panels on earth, but it would require a long period of time to test the various configurations in a terrestrial setting. The solar cells, which consist of a number of 3-D bumps, coated in zinc, copper, tin and sulfur, are able to collect the sun's rays at a variety of different angles, making them far superior to flat panels at sunrise and sunset.
The tests will determine what size the bumps should be, and how far to space them. As far as Ready is concerned, the panels can stay in space.
"In my proposal," he told Tech News Daily, "I said to leave them up there until they all failed."