TPV efficiency simulation

Simulate the efficiency of a thermophotovoltaic system

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Version 1.01 - published on 09 Dec 2013

doi:10.4231/D3B56D47C cite this

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    The selective emitter parameters The optical filter parameters Overall system parameters Outputs



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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.

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Dr. Bermel is a tenure-track assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue. He has published a total of 24 peer-reviewed original research articles on fundamental material science and engineering, including simulations and experiments on electromagnetic and quantum mechanical systems. Including scientific reviews, conference proceedings, and patents, he has published a total of 40 technical documents. His work has been cited a total of 1614 times, for an h-index value of 15. Peter's primary research goal is to improve the performance of photovoltaic, thermophotovoltaic, and nonlinear systems using the principles of nanophotonics.

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Funded by Semiconductor Research Corporation ( and the Network for Computational Nanotechnology (


1. Walker R. Chan, Peter Bermel, Robert C.N. Pilawa-Podgurski, Christopher H. Marton, Klavs F. Jensen, Jay J. Senkevich, John D. Joannopoulos, Marin Soljacic, and Ivan Celanovic, "Toward high-energy-density, high-efficiency, and moderate-temperature chip-scale thermophotovoltaics," Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., published ahead of print on February 25, 2013. doi:10.1073/pnas.1301004110. 2. YiXiang Yeng, Michael Ghebrebrhan, Peter Bermel, Walker R. Chan, John D. Joannopoulos, Marin Soljacic, Ivan Celanovic, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 109, 2280 (2012). 3. Mohammad Araghchini, Yi Xiang Yeng, Natalia Jovanovic, Peter Bermel, Leslie A. Kolodziejski, Marin Soljacic, Ivan Celanovic, John D. Joannopoulos, "Fabrication of two-dimensional tungsten photonic crystals for high-temperature applications", Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology B 29, 061402 (2011). 4. Peter Bermel, Michael Ghebrebrhan, Michael Harradon, Yi Xiang Yeng, Ivan Celanovic, John D. Joannopoulos, Marin Soljacic, "Tailoring photonic metamaterial resonances for thermal radiation", Nanoscale Research Letters 6, 549 (2011). 5. Michael Ghebrebrhan, Peter Bermel, Yi Xiang Yeng, Ivan Celanovic, Marin Soljacic, and John D. Joannopoulos, "Tailoring thermal emission via Q-matching of photonic crystal resonances", Physical Review A 83, 033810 (2011) 6. Peter Bermel, Michael Ghebrebrhan, Walker Chan, Yi Xiang Yeng, Mohammad Araghchini, Rafif Hamam, Christopher H. Marton, Klavs F. Jensen, Marin Soljacic, John D. Joannopoulos, Steven G. Johnson, Ivan Celanovic, "Design and global optimization of high-efficiency thermophotovoltaic systems", Opt. Express 18, A314-A334 (2010).

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Qingshuang Chen, Peter Bermel, Roman Shugayev, Masayoshi Sumino, Zhou Zhiguang (2013), "TPV efficiency simulation," (DOI: 10.4231/D3B56D47C).

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