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Title: Self-sustaining thermophotonic circuits

Abstract

Photons represent one of the most important heat carriers. The ability to convert photon heat flow to electricity is therefore of substantial importance for renewable energy applications. However, photon-based systems that convert heat to electricity, including thermophotovoltaic systems where photons are generated from passive thermal emitters, have long been limited by low power density. This limitation persists even with near-field enhancement techniques. Thermophotonic systems, which utilize active photon emitters such as light-emitting diodes, have the potential to significantly further enhance the power density. However, this potential has not been realized in practice, due in part to the fundamental difficulty in thermodynamics of designing a self-sustaining circuit that enables steady-state power generation. Here, we overcome such difficulty by introducing a configuration where the light-emitting diodes are connected in series, and thus multiple photons can be generated from a single injected electron. As a result we propose a self-sustaining thermophotonic circuit where the steady-state power density can exceed thermophotovoltaic systems by many orders of magnitude. This work points to possibilities for constructing heat engines with light as the working medium. The flexibility of controlling the relations between electron and photon flux, as we show in our design, may also be of generalmore » importance for optoelectronics-based energy technology.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC) (United States). Photonics at Thermodynamic Limits (PTL); California Inst. of Technology (CalTech), Pasadena, CA (United States); Stanford Univ., CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
OSTI Identifier:
1566670
DOE Contract Number:  
SC0001293; SC0019140
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 116; Journal Issue: 24; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
Publisher:
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
optics, phonons, thermal conductivity, charge transport, materials and chemistry by design, mesostructured materials, synthesis (novel materials)

Citation Formats

Zhao, Bo, Buddhiraju, Siddharth, Santhanam, Parthiban, Chen, Kaifeng, and Fan, Shanhui. Self-sustaining thermophotonic circuits. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1073/pnas.1904938116.
Zhao, Bo, Buddhiraju, Siddharth, Santhanam, Parthiban, Chen, Kaifeng, & Fan, Shanhui. Self-sustaining thermophotonic circuits. United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1904938116.
Zhao, Bo, Buddhiraju, Siddharth, Santhanam, Parthiban, Chen, Kaifeng, and Fan, Shanhui. Wed . "Self-sustaining thermophotonic circuits". United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1904938116.
@article{osti_1566670,
title = {Self-sustaining thermophotonic circuits},
author = {Zhao, Bo and Buddhiraju, Siddharth and Santhanam, Parthiban and Chen, Kaifeng and Fan, Shanhui},
abstractNote = {Photons represent one of the most important heat carriers. The ability to convert photon heat flow to electricity is therefore of substantial importance for renewable energy applications. However, photon-based systems that convert heat to electricity, including thermophotovoltaic systems where photons are generated from passive thermal emitters, have long been limited by low power density. This limitation persists even with near-field enhancement techniques. Thermophotonic systems, which utilize active photon emitters such as light-emitting diodes, have the potential to significantly further enhance the power density. However, this potential has not been realized in practice, due in part to the fundamental difficulty in thermodynamics of designing a self-sustaining circuit that enables steady-state power generation. Here, we overcome such difficulty by introducing a configuration where the light-emitting diodes are connected in series, and thus multiple photons can be generated from a single injected electron. As a result we propose a self-sustaining thermophotonic circuit where the steady-state power density can exceed thermophotovoltaic systems by many orders of magnitude. This work points to possibilities for constructing heat engines with light as the working medium. The flexibility of controlling the relations between electron and photon flux, as we show in our design, may also be of general importance for optoelectronics-based energy technology.},
doi = {10.1073/pnas.1904938116},
journal = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America},
issn = {0027-8424},
number = 24,
volume = 116,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {5}
}

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