Design, characterization and optimization of high-efficiency thermophotovoltaic (TPV) device using near-field thermal energy conversion
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Thermophotovoltaic (TPV) devices, also known as (nano-TPVs) are energy-conversion systems which generate electric current from thermal radiation energy by a heat source. Although their conversion efficiency is limited in the far field by the Schockley-Queisser limit, in near field the heat flux transferred to a TPV cell can be significantly enchanced due to the contribution of evanescent waves, in particular supporting a surface mode. Unfortunately, spectral mismatch between the emitter and the TPV cell spectrum limits the TPV conversion efficiency. Photons with energy lower than the TPV cell bandgap may not be able to create electron-hole pairs because mobile carriers start diffusing and drifting between conductance and valence band, and try to exceed the upper limit of the band. This destroys the thermal equilibrium of the semiconductor and results in excess heat. Also, for high energy photons, the difference between the photon's energy and the bandgap energy is lost in Joule heating. Thus, quasimonochromatic, narrow-band and coherent emitters at a frequency near the energy bandgap of the converter is an ideal source to achieve high conversion efficiency. Nano-TPV device consisting of tungsten thermal emitter, maintained at 1200K, and the cell made of GaInAsSb are considered; thermal management system is reviewed assuming a constant heat flux boundary due to heat generation by the cell with a fluid temperature fixed at 293K. Tungsten thermal selective emitters are designed, characterized and optimized based on two-dimensional (2D) tungsten PhC by controlling periodic triangular grooves such that channel plasmon polaritons (CPPs) are coupled efficiently into these grooves to excite a localized groove modes which are well-matched to the GaInAsSb cell external quantum efficiency (EQE). The results show that power output and the 2D TE normal efficiency of the system are predicted to be 0.82x10⁴ W/m² and 43.8%, respectively. This leads to a promising device for many different sectors such as military, space and semiconductor industry.