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Investigation of narrow bandgap interband cascade thermophotovoltaic cells
Author(s): Wenxiang Huang; Lu Li; Jeremy A. Massengale; Rui Q. Yang; Tetsuya D. Mishima; Michael B. Santos
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Paper Abstract

Thermophotovoltaic (TPV) cells based on narrow bandgap interband cascade (IC) structures with discrete type-II (T2) InAs/GaSb superlattice (SL) absorbers are a relatively new type of device for converting radiant infrared photons into electricity. By taking advantage of the broken-gap alignment in a T2 heterostructure, these quantum-engineered IC TPV structures have great flexibility to tailor the bandgap and facilitate carrier transport through interband tunneling with multiple stages for high open-circuit voltage and collection efficiency. Here, we present an investigation of narrow-bandgap (~0.2 eV at 300 K) TPV devices with a varying number of cascade stages and different absorber thicknesses. By comparing the characteristics of five TPV structures with a single absorber or multiple discrete absorbers, it is clearly demonstrated that the device performance of a conventional single-absorber TPV cell is limited mainly by the small collection efficiency associated with a relatively short diffusion length. Furthermore, this work revealed that multi-stage IC TPV structures with thin individual absorbers can circumvent the diffusion length limitation and can achieve a collection efficiency approaching 100% for photo-generated carriers. It is shown that the open-circuit voltage approximately scales with the number of cascade stages, verifying the effectiveness of cascade action. Additionally, the open-circuit voltage, the output power and power conversion efficiency can be significantly increased in IC TPV devices compared to the conventional single-absorber TPV structure. These results have further validated the potential and advantages of narrow bandgap IC structures for TPV cells.

Paper Details

Date Published: 27 February 2019
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 10913, Physics, Simulation, and Photonic Engineering of Photovoltaic Devices VIII, 1091317 (27 February 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2511222
Show Author Affiliations
Wenxiang Huang, The Univ. of Oklahoma (United States)
Lu Li, The Univ. of Oklahoma (United States)
Jeremy A. Massengale, The Univ. of Oklahoma (United States)
Rui Q. Yang, The Univ. of Oklahoma (United States)
Tetsuya D. Mishima, The Univ. of Oklahoma (United States)
Michael B. Santos, The Univ. of Oklahoma (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10913:
Physics, Simulation, and Photonic Engineering of Photovoltaic Devices VIII
Alexandre Freundlich; Laurent Lombez; Masakazu Sugiyama, Editor(s)

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