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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Ultraefficient thermophotovoltaic power conversion by band-edge spectral filtering.

  • Author(s): Omair, Zunaid;
  • Scranton, Gregg;
  • Pazos-Outón, Luis M;
  • Xiao, T Patrick;
  • Steiner, Myles A;
  • Ganapati, Vidya;
  • Peterson, Per F;
  • Holzrichter, John;
  • Atwater, Harry;
  • Yablonovitch, Eli
  • et al.

Thermophotovoltaic power conversion utilizes thermal radiation from a local heat source to generate electricity in a photovoltaic cell. It was shown in recent years that the addition of a highly reflective rear mirror to a solar cell maximizes the extraction of luminescence. This, in turn, boosts the voltage, enabling the creation of record-breaking solar efficiency. Now we report that the rear mirror can be used to create thermophotovoltaic systems with unprecedented high thermophotovoltaic efficiency. This mirror reflects low-energy infrared photons back into the heat source, recovering their energy. Therefore, the rear mirror serves a dual function; boosting the voltage and reusing infrared thermal photons. This allows the possibility of a practical >50% efficient thermophotovoltaic system. Based on this reflective rear mirror concept, we report a thermophotovoltaic efficiency of 29.1 ± 0.4% at an emitter temperature of 1,207 °C.

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