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Diffractive photo voltaic sail – Wikipedia

Diffractive photo voltaic sail – Wikipedia

2023-11-03 10:39:38

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sort of photo voltaic sail

Idea artwork for a diffractive lightsail

A diffractive photo voltaic sail, or diffractive lightsail, is a kind of solar sail which depends on diffraction as a substitute of reflection for its propulsion.[1][2] Present diffractive sail designs use skinny metamaterial movies, containing micrometer-size gratings primarily based on polarization or subwavelength refractive constructions, inflicting light to unfold out (i.e. diffract) and thereby exert radiation pressure when it passes by means of them.[2][3]

Historical past[edit]

The concept of utilizing diffraction for a photo voltaic sail was first proposed in 2017 by researchers on the Rochester Institute of Technology.[4] This was enabled partly by advances in materials design and fabrication (significantly of gratings), and optoelectronic control.[5] In 2019 a diffractive photo voltaic sail undertaking from the Rochester Institute of Technlology recommended a solar polar orbit mission with diffractive sails that would attain a better photo voltaic inclination angle and smaller orbital radius than one with reflective sails, reaching NASA‘s NIAC phase II.[1][2][6] In 2022 the NIAC undertaking reached section III and gained US$2 million of assist from NASA, with involvement of researchers from each Johns Hopkins University and the Rochester Institute of Expertise.[7][8]

Benefits over reflective sails[edit]

Reflective photo voltaic sail designs are inclined to consist of huge, skinny reflective sheets. By the law of reflection, the forces appearing on them will all the time be normal to the sheet floor; the sheets should due to this fact be tilted throughout navigation, which poses construction and management challenges, and reduces the ability reaching the sail.[2][5][7] These in flip can decrease reliability, enhance mass, and scale back acceleration.[2] Moreover, reflective sails have a tendency to soak up an affordable proportion of the sunshine hitting them, inflicting them to warmth up; this will trigger structural issues, significantly when the sail is repeatedly heated after which allowed to chill.[5] Additionally, every photon hitting the sail is used as soon as, i.e. it is both mirrored or absorbed.[5]

See Also

However, in a diffractive sail the grating can redirect mild even when the sheet immediately faces the solar, permitting way more environment friendly management with most energy hitting the sail.[5][2] The diffractive movie could be designed to permit for optoelectronic control of the gratings, thereby decreasing mass and rising reliability relative to mechanical management.[2] Because the movie is translucent, many of the mild simply passes by means of the sail, decreasing total heating.[5] Photons could be reused: both by passing by means of a second diffraction grating for extra thrust, or by going to a solar cell to supply electricity.[8]


  1. ^ a b Dubill, Amber L.; Swartzlander, Grover A. (1 October 2021). “Circumnavigating the sun with diffractive solar sails”. Acta Astronautica. 187: 190–195. doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2021.06.036. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Corridor, Loura (8 April 2019). “Diffractive Lightsails”. NASA. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  3. ^ Swartzlander Jr, Grover A. (15 Could 2018). “Flying on a Rainbow: A Photo voltaic-Pushed Diffractive Sailcraft”. arXiv:1805.05864 [physics.pop-ph].
  4. ^ Swartzlander, Grover A. (1 June 2017). “Radiation pressure on a diffractive sailcraft”. Journal of the Optical Society of America B. 34 (6): C25–C30. arXiv:1703.02940. doi:10.1364/JOSAB.34.000C25. S2CID 118954811. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Swartzlander, Grover. “StackPath”. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  6. ^ Corridor, Loura (8 April 2019). “NIAC 2019 Phase I, Phase II and Phase III Selections”. NASA. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  7. ^ a b Potter, Sean (24 Could 2022). “NASA-Supported Solar Sail Could Take Science to New Heights”. NASA. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  8. ^ a b Sivarajah, Ilamaran; Thomson (overview), Laura (29 June 2022). “The Diffractive Solar Sailing Project”. Retrieved 9 February 2023.

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