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Title: Thin-film ‘Thermal Well’ Emitters and Absorbers for High-Efficiency Thermophotovoltaics

Abstract

Here, a new approach is introduced to significantly improve the performance of thermophotovoltaic (TPV) systems using low-dimensional thermal emitters and photovoltaic (PV) cells. By reducing the thickness of both the emitter and the PV cell, strong spectral selectivity in thermal emission and absorption can be achieved by confining photons in trapped waveguide modes inside the thin-films that act as thermal analogs to quantum wells. Simultaneously, photo-excited carriers travel shorter distances across the thin-films reducing bulk recombination losses resulting in a lower saturation current in the PV cell. We predict a TPV efficiency enhancement with near-field coupling between the thermal emitter and the PV cell up to 38.7% using a thin-film germanium (Ge) emitter at 1000 K and an ultra-thin gallium antimonide (GaSb) cell supported by perfect back reflectors separated by 100 nm. Even in the far-field limit, the efficiency is predicted to reach 31.5%, which is over an order of magnitude higher than the Shockley Queisser limit of 1.6% for a bulk GaSb cell and a blackbody emitter at 1000 K. The proposed design approach does not require nanoscale patterning of the emitter and PV cell surfaces, but instead offers a simple low-cost solution to improve the performance of thermophotovoltaicmore » systems.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC) (United States). Solid-State Solar-Thermal Energy Conversion Center (S3TEC); Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES)
OSTI Identifier:
1210789
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1594150
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0001299; FG02-09ER46577; FG02-02ER45977
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 5; Journal Issue: 1; Related Information: S3TEC partners with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (lead); Boston College; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 14 SOLAR ENERGY; solar (photovoltaic); solar (thermal); solid state lighting; phonons; thermal conductivity; thermoelectric; defects; mechanical behavior; charge transport; spin dynamics; materials and chemistry by design; optics; synthesis (novel materials); synthesis (self-assembly); synthesis (scalable processing)

Citation Formats

Tong, Jonathan K., Hsu, Wei -Chun, Huang, Yi, Boriskina, Svetlana V., and Chen, Gang. Thin-film ‘Thermal Well’ Emitters and Absorbers for High-Efficiency Thermophotovoltaics. United States: N. p., 2015. Web. doi:10.1038/srep10661.
Tong, Jonathan K., Hsu, Wei -Chun, Huang, Yi, Boriskina, Svetlana V., & Chen, Gang. Thin-film ‘Thermal Well’ Emitters and Absorbers for High-Efficiency Thermophotovoltaics. United States. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep10661
Tong, Jonathan K., Hsu, Wei -Chun, Huang, Yi, Boriskina, Svetlana V., and Chen, Gang. Mon . "Thin-film ‘Thermal Well’ Emitters and Absorbers for High-Efficiency Thermophotovoltaics". United States. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep10661. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1210789.
@article{osti_1210789,
title = {Thin-film ‘Thermal Well’ Emitters and Absorbers for High-Efficiency Thermophotovoltaics},
author = {Tong, Jonathan K. and Hsu, Wei -Chun and Huang, Yi and Boriskina, Svetlana V. and Chen, Gang},
abstractNote = {Here, a new approach is introduced to significantly improve the performance of thermophotovoltaic (TPV) systems using low-dimensional thermal emitters and photovoltaic (PV) cells. By reducing the thickness of both the emitter and the PV cell, strong spectral selectivity in thermal emission and absorption can be achieved by confining photons in trapped waveguide modes inside the thin-films that act as thermal analogs to quantum wells. Simultaneously, photo-excited carriers travel shorter distances across the thin-films reducing bulk recombination losses resulting in a lower saturation current in the PV cell. We predict a TPV efficiency enhancement with near-field coupling between the thermal emitter and the PV cell up to 38.7% using a thin-film germanium (Ge) emitter at 1000 K and an ultra-thin gallium antimonide (GaSb) cell supported by perfect back reflectors separated by 100 nm. Even in the far-field limit, the efficiency is predicted to reach 31.5%, which is over an order of magnitude higher than the Shockley Queisser limit of 1.6% for a bulk GaSb cell and a blackbody emitter at 1000 K. The proposed design approach does not require nanoscale patterning of the emitter and PV cell surfaces, but instead offers a simple low-cost solution to improve the performance of thermophotovoltaic systems.},
doi = {10.1038/srep10661},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/1210789}, journal = {Scientific Reports},
issn = {2045-2322},
number = 1,
volume = 5,
place = {United States},
year = {2015},
month = {6}
}

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