Thermally enhanced photoluminescence for heat harvesting in photovoltaics

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The maximal Shockley–Queisser efficiency limit of 41% for single-junction photovoltaics is primarily caused by heat dissipation following energetic-photon absorption. Solar-thermophotovoltaics concepts attempt to harvest this heat loss, but the required high temperatures (T42,000 K) hinder device realization. Conversely, we have recently demon-strated how thermally enhanced photoluminescence is an efficient optical heat-pump that operates in comparably low temperatures. Here we theoretically and experimentally demonstrate such a thermally enhanced photoluminescence based solar-energy converter. Here heat is harvested by a low bandgap photoluminescent absorber that emits thermally enhanced photoluminescence towards a higher bandgap photovoltaic cell, resulting in a maximum theoretical efficiency of 70% at a temperature of 1,140 K. We experimentally demonstrate the key feature of sub-bandgap photon thermal upconversion with an efficiency of 1.4% at only 600 K. Experiments on white light excitation of a tailored Cr:Nd:Yb glass absorber suggest that conversion efficiencies as high as 48% at 1,500 K are in reach.




Manor, A., Kruger, N., Sabapathy, T., & Rotschild, C. (2016). Thermally enhanced photoluminescence for heat harvesting in photovoltaics. Nature Communications, 7.

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