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Ultraefficient thermophotovoltaic power conversion by band-edge spectral filtering

Omair, Zunaid and Scranton, Gregg and Pazos-Outón, Luis M. and Xiao, T. Patrick and Steiner, Myles A. and Ganapati, Vidya and Peterson, Per F. and Holzrichter, John and Atwater, Harry and Yablonovitch, Eli (2019) Ultraefficient thermophotovoltaic power conversion by band-edge spectral filtering. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116 (31). pp. 15356-15361. ISSN 0027-8424. PMCID PMC6681750. doi:10.1073/pnas.1903001116.

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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.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Information CentralArticle
Omair, Zunaid0000-0001-7830-4360
Steiner, Myles A.0000-0003-1643-9766
Peterson, Per F.0000-0002-1353-0348
Atwater, Harry0000-0001-9435-0201
Yablonovitch, Eli0000-0002-5724-3375
Additional Information:© 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS. This open access article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND). Contributed by Eli Yablonovitch, June 10, 2019 (sent for review February 27, 2019; reviewed by James Harris and Richard R. King) The authors would like to thank Matin Amani and Kevin Cook for help with characterization. Experimental design, measurement and data analysis were supported by Department of Energy (DOE) “Light-Material Interactions in Energy Conversion” Energy Frontier Research Center under Grant DE-SC0001293, DOE “Photonics at Thermodynamic Limit” Energy Frontier Research Center under Grant DE-SC00019140, and Kavli Energy NanoScience Institute Heising-Simons Junior Fellowship of the University of California, Berkeley. Setup design was supported in part by Keck Foundation National Academies Keck Futures Initiative Grant. Device fabrication was supported in part by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, the manager and operator of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the US DOE under Contract No. DE-AC36-08GO28308, funding provided by the US DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. The views expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the views of DOE or the US Government. Z.O. and G.S. contributed equally to this work. Author contributions: Z.O., G.S., L.M.P.-O., M.A.S., V.G., P.F.P., J.H., H.A., and E.Y. designed research; Z.O., G.S., L.M.P.-O., M.A.S., J.H., and E.Y. performed research; Z.O., L.M.P.-O., and E.Y. analyzed data; and Z.O., L.M.P.-O., T.P.X., and E.Y. wrote the paper. Reviewers: J.H., Stanford University; and R.R.K., Arizona State University. The authors declare no conflict of interest. This article contains supporting information online at
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-SC0001293
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-SC0019140
Kavli Energy Nanoscience InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Heising-Simons FoundationUNSPECIFIED
W. M. Keck FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-AC36-08GO28308
Subject Keywords:energy; photovoltaics; thermophotovoltaics; TPV; solar
Issue or Number:31
PubMed Central ID:PMC6681750
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190725-125945017
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Ultraefficient thermophotovoltaic power conversion by band-edge spectral filtering. Zunaid Omair, Gregg Scranton, Luis M. Pazos-Outón, T. Patrick Xiao, Myles A. Steiner, Vidya Ganapati, Per F. Peterson, John Holzrichter, Harry Atwater, Eli Yablonovitch. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jul 2019, 116 (31) 15356-15361; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1903001116
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:97420
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:25 Jul 2019 20:27
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:31

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