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Low Cost, High Efficiency Mobile Solar Sensor Developed

Low Cost, High Efficiency Mobile Solar Sensor Developed

Image source: nrl.navy.mil

A new, highly efficient and low-cost mobile solar sensor for field analysis of solar cell performance has been developed by researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Electronics Science and Technology Division.

The new sensor, which costs about $20 USD to produce, takes aim at the growing number of mobile solar power units, and the device can serve to measure and analyze solar cell irradiance performance and spectral distribution, which can help to improve both efficiency of systems and to forecast power supplies.

“We have invented a novel minimum size, ultra-low power spectral radiometer unit with integrated data storage functionality and a battery lifetime of up to several years.” – Dr. R. Hoheisel, NRL Solid State Devices Section

Because the sensors are not only small, but also work completely autonomously and have a long expected lifespan in use, they are a great fit for use in mobile power applications for military missions.

“A challenge to research of long-term expeditionary devices was we had no information regarding when, and how long, mobile solar power units were in the sun. These units have a dynamic range of 0.01 – 2 suns measured in 30-second intervals, a data capacity of 128 megabytes (MB), an average power consumption of 100 microwatts (uW) and an independent real time clock.” – Hoheisel

The sensors, which are modular by design, can be used for remote solar radiation monitoring in mobile solar power units, but could also be used as for long-term environmental monitoring systems where both high precision and low power demands are a necessity.

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