Types of Sun Simulators
Broadly, there are two main types of sun simulators - flash simulators and steady-state simulators. Flash simulators deliver a very high intensity light flash of short duration ranging from microseconds to seconds. They are used to accurately determine the current-voltage characteristics of solar cells. On the other hand, steady-state sun simulators provide a continuous output of adjustable light intensity over a much longer time frame from minutes to hours. Commercial module testing is performed using steady-state simulators under controlled environmental conditions.

Latest Advancements in Simulation Technology
With accelerated research and investments into Global Solar Simulator energy globally, solar simulators are also developing rapidly. The latest generation of simulators feature state-of-the-art optical, thermal and digital control systems to achieve the highest level of replication of the sun's spectrum. Advanced metal halide and xenon arc lamps combined with sophisticated power supplies deliver programmable light intensity outputs covering the full spectral range from 290-4000 nm. Precise spectral match devices such as monochromators are integrated for AM1.5G standardization.

Thermal chambers provide temperature control over a wide range, usually -40°C to +200°C or higher, for evaluating modules under changing ambient conditions. Computerized automation allows complex multi-stage light soaking and I-V curve tracing programs to be run automatically. Advanced data acquisition tools capture performance metrics alongside environmental conditions for detailed analysis. Safety standards are strictly followed with enclosure shielding and emergency shutoff systems. These technical improvements have enabled sun simulators to function as universal research and testing platforms.

International Standardization Efforts
To regulate and benchmark photovoltaic testing outcomes across borders, a set of standards have been established globally through collaborative efforts. The IEC 60904 series provides standard protocols for sun simulators performance characterization and photovoltaic device evaluation. Key standards within this series include IEC 60904-9 for sun simulators used in testing c-Si photovoltaic devices and IEC 60904-3 for reference solar cells and procedures for calibration.

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