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Solar Simulator Applications

What is a solar simulator?

To assess solar cell performances (or other photo dependent processes), you'll need consistent solar illumination. Changeable weather, day-night cycles and varying daylight hours make using actual sunlight impractical for repeat experiments. Also, atmospheric effects mean that the intensity of solar radiation varies over the Earth's surface. This makes it hard to compare devices tested in different locations.

Solar simulators are designed to address these issues by accurately and consistently mimicking solar radiation. The light from a solar simulator aims to reproduce a standard solar spectrum (usually AM1.5G). By using carefully calibrated solar simulators, solar cells made in any lab around the world can be easily and systematically compared, which enables PV research to advance more quickly.


Ossila Solar Simulator lab setup for solar cell testing
Easy solar cell characterization

Solar Cell Characterization

The most common use of a solar simulator is to characterize photovoltaic devices. To calculate solar cell device efficiency, the solar cell is illuminated under a solar simulator, and a current-voltage sweep is performed. To measure this accurately, you must tightly control the illumination spectrum under which the device is measured.

You can also use solar simulators to measure how the device efficiency degrades over time under operating conditions, also known as lifetime testing. The Ossila Solar Simulator can be used as a standalone system and integrated into existing test platform. It can also be combined with our solar cell I-V test system in our automated or manual kit.

Rapid device characterization with the Ossila Solar Cell I-V Test System, Solar Simulator, and Solar Cell I-V software

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, quantitative measurements of a materials response to solar irradiation.


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.

Contributing Authors

Written by

Dr. Mary O'Kane

Application Scientist

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