Waste heat is a free and abundant energy source, with 15% of global total energy use existing as waste heat above 600 K. For 600-900 K temperature range, near-field thermophotovoltaics (NFTPVs) are theorized to be the most effective technology to recycle waste heat into electrical power. However, to date, experimental efficiencies have not exceeded 1.5%. In this work, we optimize the efficiency of three modeled InAs/InAsSbP-based room-temperature NFTPV devices positioned 0.1 μm from a 750 K p-doped Si radiator. We couple a one-dimensional fluctuational electrodynamics model for the near field optics to a two-dimensional drift-diffusion model, which we validated by reproducing measured dark current-voltage curves of two previously published InAs and InAsSbP devices. The optimized devices show four to six times higher above-bandgap energy transfer compared to the blackbody radiative limit, yielding enhanced power density, while simultaneously lowering parasitic sub-bandgap energy transfer by factors of 0.68-0.85. Substituting InAs front- and back-surface field layers with InAsSbP show 1.5- and 1.4-times higher efficiency and power output, respectively, from lowered parasitic diffusion currents. Of our three optimized designs, the best performing device has a double heterostructure with an n-i-p doping order from front to back. For radiator-thermophotovoltaic gaps of 0.01-10 μm and radiators within 600-900 K, this device has a maximum efficiency of 14.2% and a maximum power output of 1.55 W/cm2, both at 900 K. Within 600-900 K, the efficiency is always higher with near- vs far-field illumination; we calculate up to 3.7- and 107-times higher efficiency and power output, respectively, using near-field heat transfer.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)