Ultraefficient Thermophotovoltaic Power Conversion by Band-Edge Spectral Filtering

Myles Steiner, Zunaid Omar, Gregg Scranton, Luis Pazon-Outon, Patrick Xiao, Vidya Ganapati, Per Peterson, John Holzrichter, Harry Atwater, Eli Yablonovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Scopus Citations


Thermophotovoltaic power conversion utilizes thermal radiation from a local heat source to generate electricity in a photovoltaic cell. It was shown in recent years that the addition of a highly reflective rear mirror to a solar cell maximizes the extraction of luminescence. This in turn boosts the voltage enabling the creation of recordbreaking solar efficiency. Now we report that the rear mirror can be used to create thermophotovoltaic systems with unprecedented high thermophotovoltaic efficiency. This mirror reflects low-energy infrared photons back into the heat source recovering their energy. Therefore the rear mirror serves a dual function; boosting the voltage and reusing infrared thermal photons. This allows the possibility of a practical >50% efficient thermophotovoltaic system. Based on this reflective rear mirror concept we report a thermophotovoltaic efficiency of 29.1 ± 0.4% at an emitter temperature of 1,207 °C.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)15356-15361
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number31
StatePublished - 30 Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-73229


  • Energy
  • Photovoltaics
  • Solar
  • Thermophotovoltaics
  • TPV


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