Light curve analysis is often used to discern information about satellites in geosynchronous orbits. Solar panels, comprising a large part of the satellite’s body, contribute significantly to these light curves. Historically, theoretical bidirectional reflectance distribution functions (BRDFs) have failed to capture key features in the scattered light from solar panels. In recently published work, a new solar cell BRDF was developed by combining specular microfacet and “two-slit” diffraction terms to capture specular and periodic/array scattering, respectively. This BRDF was experimentally motivated and predicted many features of the solar cell scattered irradiance. However, the experiments that informed the BRDF were limited to a single laser wavelength, single beam size, and single solar cell sample. In addition, the BRDF was not physics based and therefore, physical insight into what causes certain features in the scattered irradiance was not evident. In this work, we examine solar cell scattering from first principles and derive a simple physics-based expression for the scattered irradiance. We analyze this expression and physically link terms to important scattering features, e.g., out-of-plane phenomena. In addition, we compare our model with experimental data and find good agreement in the locations and behaviors of these features. Our new model, being more predictive by nature, will allow for greater flexibility and accuracy when modeling reflection from solar cells in both real-world and experimental situations.
Madilynn Compean, Todd Small, Milo Hyde, and Michael Marciniak, "Wave optics approach to solar cell BRDF modeling with experimental results," Opt. Express 31, 26289-26300 (2023)