The proposed dust adhesion force mitigating coatings for solar array cover materials will provide improved efficiency in solar array power conversion and improved performance of current and future active dust mitigating technologies. These coatings will address both of the primary lunar and Martian dust adhesion mechanisms, electrostatic and Van der Waals attraction, while maintaining high optical transmittance. The proposed work will build on WattGlass’s existing knowledge base of liquid deposition of thin-film anti-reflective coatings to develop static-dissipating and low surface energy coatings that can be applied via large scale, low cost, high throughput coating methods. At the end of the Phase I effort, the TRL of 3 is expected, with the lab scale demonstration of enhanced dust clearing in a lunar environmental simulation chamber. This will prepare for the anticipated Phase II research effort, where the coatings will be further optimized, incorporated into an existing solar array prototype with active dust mitigation (such as an electrodynamic dust shield), and improved dust clearing performance will be demonstrated in one of NASA’s lunar or Martian environmental test chambers. This will yield an expected TRL 6 at the conclusion of the Phase II research.
Lunar/Martian dust mitigating coatings for solar arrays help solve the problem of power loss from dust coverage observed during the Apollo and Mars rover missions. All future lunar and Martian surface exploration missions will benefit from this technology through providing solar arrays with effectively higher in-field efficiency.
The combined market for the proposed coatings is over $8B growing at greater than 8% CAGR, dominated by solar glass coatings and conductive coatings for touch screen applications. Translating the proposed technology from this work to these applications will have significant market value and aligns well with WattGlass’s product development path.