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Solar Simulator


Product Code G2009A1
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Class AAA solar simulator at an affordable price

Reliable LED light source for small area solar cell testing


The Ossila Solar Simulator is a compact, low price light source suitable for characterising small area solar cells. Using a powerful LED lamp, the solar simulator achieves an AAA classification over a 15 mm diameter circular area, and an ABA classification over a 25 mm diameter area (IEC 60904-9:2020 International Standard). Combined with our automated or manual solar cell I-V test systems to equip your laboratory with a fully integrated solar cell characterisation system. Just plug in, turn on, and measure. The LED based system provides stable output with zero maintenance and virtually no warm-up time.

Coming soon, the Ossila Solar Simulator will be available with or without a z-stage, or with our IV test systems (with fixed bracket). Register interest today to be among the first to receive a unit.

What is a solar simulator?


The testing and characterisation of materials or solar cells requires that their operating parameters be measured under solar illumination. It is often impractical to test devices under the actual sun due to the inconsistency in received solar radiation (due to changeable weather, day-night cycle etc). Comparison between devices tested in different locations would also be challenging due to the variation in intensity of solar radiation over the Earth's surface because of atmospheric effects. Solar simulators are light sources designed to alleviate these issues by providing a reliable and controllable approximation of solar radiation relative to a standardised spectrum.

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Key Features

LED lamp

The Ossila Solar Simulator uses light-emitting diodes to generate its light output. The advantages of LEDs over arc-lamp or incandescent alternatives include:

  • High efficiency
  • Long operating lifetime
  • High temporal stability
  • Zero maintenance
  • Spectral tunability
  • Virtually zero warm-up time
  • Ozone-free

Modular design

You can purchase the Ossila Solar Simulator as a stand-alone head unit for custom mounting, as a height adjustable system for use with your existing test setup, or packaged with our manual/automated Solar Cell IV Test System for a complete measurement solution.

Programmable

Using the Ossila Solar Simulator is as simple as turning it on. However, more complex operation is supported through the use of a serial command library. Set the illuminance or control each LED individually. You can have complete control of the system for your custom needs.

Compact

Our solar simulator has been designed for environments where space is limited. Whether that be high density laboratories, or inside a glovebox*, the Ossila Solar Simulator can fit into the smallest of spaces.

* Not for use in volatile environments.

High Specification

The Ossila Solar Simulator is AAA rated for small area devices, including our 20mm x 15mm and 25mm x 25mm substrate systems. Each system is individually calibrated with a NIST traceable photoradiometer and comes with a performance report.

Classification

There are several different recognised standards which are used to classify solar simulators, each of which is published by a different standards organisation (IEC, ATSM, or JIS). Although there are slight differences between the standards, they all classify solar simulators based upon their performance in three key areas. The better the performance, the higher the rating. A, or A+, is the highest rating possible depending on the standard used) and C is the lowest.

Spectral match to a standardised solar spectrum

The light emitted by the Sun has spectral power distribution that is approximately that of a black body at 5800K. Because some wavelengths of light are more strongly absorbed by molecules in the Earth than others, the light arriving at the surface appears as a black body curve with some wavelength bands of lower intensity. The intensity of the light will also depend on how much atmosphere the light passes through.

Spectral irradiance graph
Spectral irradiance graph

The most common standardised spectrum is the AM1.5 spectrum, which approximates sunlight received at middle latitudes. The AM1.5 spectrum is divided into wavelength bins containing a known percentage of the total solar irradiance.

The measured irradiance from the solar simulator is compared with the standard spectrum for each wavelength bin, and the more closely they match, the higher the rating.

The absolute spectral irradiance of the Ossila Solar Simulator at 8.5 cm is seen in the graph for a total integrated power of 100 mW/cm2 (1 sun) over the wavelength range 350 nm - 1000 nm.

Spatial non-uniformity

Ossila Solar Simulator irradiance profile
Irradiance profile

Due to the large distance between the Sun and the Earth, rays emitted from the Sun are approximately parallel at the Earth's surface. This creates a very uniform spatial distribution of energy. Solar simulators emulate this uniformity, often using optical elements such as lenses, mirrors, and diffusers.

A more uniform distribution of light from a solar simulator better approximates the light that would be received from the Sun. The intensity of light from a solar simulator is mapped over a plane, with more uniform illumination being assigned a higher classification.

The irradiance profile of the Ossila Solar Simulator is circular. At the working distance of 8.5 cm and output power of 1 sun, it achieves a spatial non-uniformity class A rating over a 15 mm diameter, a class B rating over 25 mm diameter, and a class C rating at 32 mm diameter.

Temporal instability

Temporal instability graph
Temporal instability graph

The intensity of the light output from a solar simulator can vary over time due to factors including power supply variations or the age of the lamp. The former would affect stability over short timescales (the time taken to record successive points in an I-V dataset) while the latter would affect longer timescales and would be of importance for measurements such as solar cell aging or slow I-V sweeps.

Both short-term and long-term instability may be assessed in the classification of solar simulators, however for many solar simulators, only long-term instability is required. Lower instabilities (smaller peak-to-peak intensity variations) giving higher classifications.

The solar simulator will receive a grade A to C in each of these areas e.g. it may be classified as a 'ABA' device. The latest IEC 60904-9:2020 standard which we follow also allows for an A+ classification in each field.

The long-term temporal instability of the Ossila Solar Simulator is shown above, achieving a class A rating.

Applications

Solar cell characterisation

The most obvious use of a solar simulator is in characterising photovoltaic devices. The solar cell is illuminated under a solar simulator, and a current-voltage sweep is performed. Knowing the properties of the light and measuring the electrical properties of the cell, the device efficiency can be calculated. Measuring how the device efficiency degrades over time under operating conditions is also an important measurement, this is known as lifetime testing. The Ossila Solar Simulator can be used as a standalone system for integration into existing test platform or installed onto our solar cell I-V test system for a complete testing package.

Materials testing

Many materials need to withstand extended periods under sunlight, for example structural or aesthetic plastics that can become brittle or discoloured under prolonged ultraviolet light exposure. Other materials need to effectively absorb solar radiation, such as packaging materials to protect their contents, or sunscreen to protect skin. A solar simulator allows repeatable, quantitive measurements of a materials response to solar irradiation.

Photobiology

The study of the effects of light on living organisms is called photobiology. The most important source of light on Earth is the Sun as it drives photosynthesis in plants and circadian rhythms in both plants and animals. Lab-based studies of these processes may require a more controllable substitute for the Sun. A solar simulator is an ideal alternative.

All specifications are subject to change before the launch of the Ossila Solar Simulator.

General Specifications

Type LED-Based, Steady-State
Spectral deviation TBC
Spectral coverage TBC
Divergence angle (FWHM) TBC
Working distance (cm) 8.5 cm
Irradiance (at working distance) 1000 w/m2
Dimensions (head only), L x W x H 10.5 cm x 9.0 cm x 8.0 cm
Weight TBC

Solar Simulator Classification

Spectral match A
Spatial uniformity over 15mm diameter area A
Spatial uniformity over 25mm diameter area B
Spatial uniformity over 32mm diameter area C

Spectral Irradiance

The absolute spectral irradiance at 8.5 cm from system is shown in the figure below, for a total integrated power of 100 mW/cm2 (1 sun) over the wavelength range 350 nm - 1000 nm.

Spectral irradiance graph
Spectral irradiance graph

Spatial non-uniformity

The irradiance profile of the Ossila Solar Simulator is circular. At the working distance of 8.5cm and output power of 1 sun, it achieves a spatial non-uniformity class A rating over a 15 mm diameter, a class B rating over 25 mm diameter and a class C rating 32 mm diameter.

Spectral irradiance graph
Spatial non-uniformity

Temporal instability

The long-term temporal instability of the Ossila Solar Simulator is shown below, achieving a class A rating.

Spectral irradiance graph
Temporal instability

Find the answers to some commonly asked questions below. For any other queries, please contact us.

General

Specifications


To the best of our knowledge the information provided here is accurate. However, Ossila assume no liability for the accuracy of this page. The values provided are typical at the time of manufacture and may vary over time and from batch to batch. All products are for laboratory and research and development use only, and may not be used for any other purpose including health care, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food or commercial applications.

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