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A High Efficiency Micro-Thermophotovoltaic Generator System


Problem: Thermophotovoltaic (TPV) systems generally exhibit extremely low power conversion efficiencies on the order of 1% or less mostly due to thermal emission of undesirable mid-wavelength infrared photons. The design of photonic crystals which have the potential to strongly suppress these losses is complex and generally present a non-convex design optimization problem. Technology: Solving the above problems requires efficient objective function evaluation as well as efficient global optimization algorithms. In this invention both requirements are met in order to design two new systems: micro-TPV generators and solar thermal TPV systems. A power electronics architecture is also demonstrated which is suitable for TPV power generation. Low-power sensing techniques is incorporated and high power conversion efficiency and small size is achieved. A tracking efficiency above 99% is demonstrated. This invention also demonstrates a micro-TPV system generating 150 mW with the MPPT converter.


1) Micro-TPV reactors see up to a 27-fold increase in their efficiency and power output 2) Solar thermal TPV systems see up to a 45-fold increase in their efficiency to exceed the Shockley 3) Quiesser limit for a single-junction photovoltaic cell. 4) The invention paves the way towards a fully integrated fully functional micro-scale TPV power generator.

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