Plasmon-empowered thermophotovoltaics

Conventional photovoltaic (PV) cells can only convert a very narrow spectral region of sunlight efficiently, while a large part of the energy reaching the cell does not generate electricity at all, or only does so very inefficiently. One way to increase the efficiency of solar cells is by using a thermo-photovoltaic cell, where the entire solar spectrum is first absorbed and then re-emitted thermally at the maximum efficiency point of the PV-cell. This requires the use of absorbers with stringent criteria on the spectral absorption over a very wide range of wavelengths in order to guarantee efficient absorption of sunlight while preventing thermal emission from the absorber itself. Additional requirements such as thermal and chemical stability are met by the exclusive use of high-temperature materials, so-called refractories. In our recent publication, “Multilayer tungsten-alumina-based broadband light absorbers for high-temperature applications”, we combine these requirements to make a high-temperature solar absorber, which additionally is cost-effective, scalable to large areas and CMOS compatible. We are happy to note that our most recent publication in this field attracted significant attention in several scientific press outlets, including and ScienceDaily.
For further details on our work, please see the webpage for the PlasTPV project and the following papers:

  • Multilayer tungsten-alumina-based broadband light absorbers for high-temperature applications, Opt. Mater. Express 6, 2704 (2016).
  • Optics of a single ultrasharp groove in metal, Opt. Lett. 41, 2903 (2016).
  • Near-infrared tailored thermal emission from wafer-scale continuous-film resonators, Opt. Express 23, A1111 (2015).