We report the design, optimization, and experimental results of large area commercial silicon solar cell based thermophotovoltaic (TPV) energy conversion systems. Using global non-linear optimization tools, we demonstrate theoretically a maximum radiative heat-to-electricity efficiency of 6.4% and a corresponding output electrical power density of 0.39 W cm(-2) at temperature T = 1660 K when implementing both the optimized two-dimensional (2D) tantalum photonic crystal (PhC) selective emitter, and the optimized 1D tantalum pentoxide - silicon dioxide PhC cold-side selective filter. In addition, we have developed an experimental large area TPV test setup that enables accurate measurement of radiative heat-to-electricity efficiency for any emitter-filter-TPV cell combination of interest. In fact, the experimental results match extremely well with predictions of our numerical models. Our experimental setup achieved a maximum output electrical power density of 0.10W cm(-2) and radiative heat-to-electricity efficiency of 1.18% at T = 1380 K using commercial wafer size back-contacted silicon solar cells.
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