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TPV efficiency simulation

Simulate the efficiency of a thermophotovoltaic system

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Archive Version 1.0
Published on 12 Nov 2013
Latest version: 1.01. All versions

doi:10.4231/D3MK6582G cite this

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Thermophotovoltaic (TPV) power systems, which convert heat into electricity using a photovoltaic diode to collect thermal radiation, have attracted increasing attention in recent work. It has recently been proposed that new optical structures such as photonic crystals can significantly improve the efficiency of these devices in two ways. First, the electronic bandgap of the TPV diode should match the photonic bandgap of the emitter, in order to ensure that the majority of emitted photons can be converted into electricity. Second, a photonic crystal short-pass optical filter can be added to the front of the TPV diode to send long wavelength photons back to the hot emitter, which is known as photon recycling. This filter can consist of a quarter wave stack of two materials, or many materials blended together into a so-called rugate filter. Here we present a tool, freely available through, that allows one to simulate and optimize TPV performance when using these components at a system level. A graphical user interface (GUI) was developed using the Rappture toolkit that allows one to specify the materials and the geometric structure of the selective emitter, filter, and TPV diode. This information is subsequently supplied to two simulations: a finite difference time-domain simulation, known as MEEP, which yields the thermal emission spectrum of the photonic structure; and a Fourier modal method simulation, known as S4, which outputs the filter spectrum. Both of these results are then combined with other data provided in the GUI to yield the overall TPV system efficiency. Finally, we explored a constrained range of design parameters to find optimal values that warrant further theoretical and experimental investigation.

Tags, a resource for nanoscience and nanotechnology, is supported by the National Science Foundation and other funding agencies. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.