Semiconductor-Dielectric-Metal Solar Absorbers with High Spectral Selectivity

Eric Tervo, Myles Steiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus Citations


An ideal solar thermal absorber has a sharp transition between high and low absorptance at the wavelength where the blackbody emissive power begins to exceed the solar irradiance. However, most real selective absorbers have a fairly broad transition, leading to both solar absorption and thermal emission losses. Here, we model, fabricate, and characterize a highly selective semiconductor-dielectric-metal (Ga0.46In0.54As – MgF2 – Ag) solar absorber with an extremely sharp transition from high to low absorptance. The thin semiconductor serves as a selective filter, absorbing photons with wavelengths shorter than the bandgap and transmitting those with longer wavelengths. The highly reflective dielectric-metal rear mirror allows the structure to have very low emittance for longer wavelengths. These characteristics provide the absorber with a measured solar absorptance >91% below the bandgap wavelength and infrared emittance <5% at 100 °C above the bandgap wavelength. This transition wavelength can be tuned by modifying the semiconductor composition, and modeling indicates that the absorber's optical properties should be stable at high temperatures, making the structure a good candidate for unconcentrated to highly concentrated solar thermal energy conversion.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 111735
Number of pages7
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-81677


  • concentrating solar power
  • selective absorber
  • solar thermal energy conversion


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