Coupled Charge and Radiation Transport Processes in Thermophotovoltaic and Thermoradiative Cells

Eric Tervo, William Callahan, Dudong Feng, Zhuomin Zhang, Eric Toberer, Andrew Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus Citations


Accurate modeling of charge transport and both thermal and luminescent radiation is crucial to the understanding and design of radiative thermal energy converters. Charge-carrier dynamics in semiconductors are well-described by the Poisson-drift-diffusion equations, and thermal radiation in emitter-absorber structures can be computed using multilayer fluctuational electrodynamics. These two types of energy flows interact through radiation absorption or luminescence and charge-carrier generation or recombination. However, past research has typically only assumed limited interaction, with thermal radiation absorption as an input for charge-carrier models to predict device performance. To examine this assumption, we develop a fully coupled iterative model of charge and radiation transport in semiconductor devices, and we use our model to analyze near-field and far-field GaSb thermophotovoltaic and thermoradiative systems. By comparing our results with past methods that do not consider cross-influences between charge and radiation transport, we find that a fully coupled approach is necessary to accurately model photon recycling and near-field enhancement of external luminescence. As these effects can substantially alter device performance, our modeling approach can aid in the design of efficient thermophotovoltaic and thermoradiative systems.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 054035
Number of pages13
JournalPhysical Review Applied
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Physical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-78663


  • charge transport
  • near-field thermal radiation
  • thermophotovoltaic
  • thermoradiative


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