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A hot-electron thermophotonic solar cell demonstrated by thermal up-conversion of sub-bandgap photons.

ABSTRACT: The direct conversion of solar energy to electricity can be broadly separated into two main categories: photovoltaics and thermal photovoltaics, where the former utilizes gradients in electrical potential and the latter thermal gradients. Conventional thermal photovoltaics has a high theoretical efficiency limit (84%) but in practice cannot be easily miniaturized and is limited by the engineering challenges of sustaining large (>1,000 K) temperature gradients. Here we show a hot-carrier-based thermophotonic solar cell, which combines the compact nature of photovoltaic devices with the potential to reach the high-efficiency regime of thermal photovoltaics. In the device, a thermal gradient of 500 K is established by hot electrons, under Stokes illumination, rather than by raising the temperature of the material itself. Under anti-Stokes (sub-bandgap) illumination we observe a thermal gradient of ∼20 K, which is maintained by steady-state Auger heating of carriers and corresponds to a internal thermal up-conversion efficiency of 30% between the collector and solar cell.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4659835 | BioStudies | 2015-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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