European Space Agency

Thin Film Solar Cell & Panel (SOCL)


The scope of the activity is to define the flight Thin Film Solar Cell Demonstration Module and to breadboard critical elements.

Thin film cells have shown promising performance figures enabling new solar array concepts with power to mass ratio's beyond the current standard and attractive cost figures. However, the thin film technology is not mature enough. A step-by-step approach is proposed for the introduction on commercial satellites. The first step, proposed for the present activity, is to prepare a demonstration for performance and environmental characterisation to be flown on a planar solar array.


Development of space worthy solar cells in CIS technology Integration of these cells into a spacecraft solar array breadboard.


Providing of a European supply of thin film solar cell technology.


Not Applicable.


Phase 1: Definition of Demonstration Module / Design of breadboard

Phase 2: Manufacturing of Breadboard / tests / update definition

Current status

Breadboard of 840 to 500 mm² size manufactured with 129 solar cells in two strings. Measurements of electrical characteristics (efficiency under sunlight, under test setup, insulation resistance of solar network against ground, resistance over electrical network). First campaign of thermal-vacuum cycling has been performed. Acoustic test between 2 dummy panels representing rigid solar panels has been successfully overcome (147 dB overall excitation). Ready to start with 2nd thermal cycling test campaign.

Breadboard with 129 cells in two strings

click for larger image

Status date

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - 17:34