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Author ORCID ID is 000000018959237X
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  1. Thermophotovoltaics (TPV) convert heat into electricity by capturing thermal radiation with a photovoltaic (PV) cell, ideally at efficiencies of 50% or more. However, excess heating of the PV cell from close proximity to the emitter substantially reduces the system efficiency. In this paper, we theoretically develop and numerically demonstrate an approach to fundamentally improving TPV systems that allow for a much greater separation of an emitter and a receiver. Thus, we solve the excess heating dilemma, required for achieving theoretically high efficiencies. It consists of a spherically graded index lens known as Maxwell's Fish-Eye (MFE) structure, capable of collimating hemisphericalmore » emission into a much narrower range of angles, close to the normal direction. To fully characterize the power radiation profile of the MFE, we perform finite-difference time-domain simulations for a quarter MFE and then map it onto a Gaussian beam approximation. The modeled beam properties are subsequently used to study a half MFE. In an optimized half MFE design, 90% of all thermal photons reach a receiver at a distance of 100 λ; by comparison, only 15.6% of a blackbody emitter reach a receiver in the same geometry. It is also shown that the emission achieved by a half MFE can lead to a photon recycling rate above 95% for below bandgap photons at an emitter-receiver separation of 100 λ. Finally, by applying a half MFE, the absolute TPV efficiency can be improved from 5.74% to 37.15%, which represents a significant step forward in realizing high-efficiency TPV systems.« less

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