Novel Nanomaterial-based Thermo-Photovoltaic Cells


Background: Currently thermo-photovoltaic (TPV) cells are based on traditional semiconductor thin-film technology. For a radiation source with a temperature of 1500K the efficiency of the cell is ~20% during operation at room temperature. However efficiency decreases greatly with increasing cell temperature. With regards to power conversion in space it is also difficult to obtain efficiency over 30% when the cell temperature is 400K. Still TPVs are of great commercial interest. Technology Description: Researchers in UCLA\\\'s Department of electrical Engineering have proposed three types of TPV cell structures based on a particular nanomaterial. The optical and electrical properties of these nanotechnology-based TPVs can be tuned during fabrication making them suitable for multiple applications. Applications: 1) High performance low radiation temperature TPV devices can be designed for space applications. 2) Low-cost TPV cell systems can be used as the basis for next-generation electrical conversion. 3) Industrial manufacturing facilities that produce a large amount of waste heat (glass metalcasting and steel industries) could use the high temperature heat to generate electricity. Patent Status: US7985615


1) Tunable bandgap range. 2) Broadband matching for the blackbody radiation spectrum. 3) Outstanding electrical characteristics. 4) Improved heat conduction. 5) The nanomaterial can be grown on various substrates. 6) Cost effective.

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