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Proceedings Paper

Advanced thermal management materials for concentrator photovoltaic arrays
Author(s): Carl Zweben
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Paper Abstract

Thermal management is a critical issue for photovoltaics (PVs), especially concentrator photovoltaic systems. Thermal management problems are similar for all semiconductors, including those used in microelectronics and other optoelectronic applications, such as lasers, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), detectors and displays. We divide the thermal management problem into two parts: heat dissipation and thermal stresses. Heat dissipation affects efficiency and lifetime. Thermal stresses affect manufacturing yield and lifetime. Traditional thermal management materials all have serious deficiencies. Copper and aluminum have high coefficients of thermal expansion (CTEs), which can cause severe thermal stresses during manufacturing and in service. Compliant attach materials, used to minimize thermal stresses, all have major drawbacks. Traditional low-CTE thermal management materials have relatively low thermal conductivities and are hard to machine. In response to these deficiencies, new thermal management materials have been, and are continuing to be developed, which have low CTEs and thermal conductivities up to four times that of copper. Some are reportedly are cheaper than copper. In this paper, we survey the six categories of advanced thermal materials, including properties, state of maturity and cost. We also review a CPV application in which an advanced metal matrix composite with a tailored CTE eliminated solder joint failure and provided other benefits.

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 August 2010
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 7769, High and Low Concentrator Systems for Solar Electric Applications V, 77690G (24 August 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.858599
Show Author Affiliations
Carl Zweben, Advanced Thermal Materials Consultant (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7769:
High and Low Concentrator Systems for Solar Electric Applications V
Lori E. Greene; Raed A. Sherif, Editor(s)

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