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A Computational Simulation of Using Tungsten Gratings in Near-Field Thermophotovoltaic Devices

[+] Author Affiliations
J. I. Watjen, X. L. Liu, B. Zhao, Z. M. Zhang

Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

Paper No. MNHMT2016-6632, pp. V001T05A011; 8 pages
  • ASME 2016 5th International Conference on Micro/Nanoscale Heat and Mass Transfer
  • Volume 1: Micro/Nanofluidics and Lab-on-a-Chip; Nanofluids; Micro/Nanoscale Interfacial Transport Phenomena; Micro/Nanoscale Boiling and Condensation Heat Transfer; Micro/Nanoscale Thermal Radiation; Micro/Nanoscale Energy Devices and Systems
  • Biopolis, Singapore, January 4–6, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: Heat Transfer Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4965-1
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


Near-field thermophotovoltaic (NFTPV) devices have received much attention lately as attractive energy harvesting systems, whereby a heated thermal emitter exchanges super-Planckian near-field radiation with a photovoltaic (PV) cell to generate electricity. This work describes the use of a grating structure to enhance the power throughput of NFTPV devices, while increasing thermal efficiency by ensuring that a large portion of the radiation entering the PV cell is above the bandgap. The device is modeled as a one-dimensional high-temperature tungsten grating on a tungsten substrate that radiates photons to a room-temperature In0.18Ga0.82Sb PV cell through a vacuum gap of several tens of nanometers. Scattering theory is used along with the rigorous coupled-wave analysis to calculate the radiation exchange between the grating emitter and the PV cell. A parametric study is performed by varying the grating depth, period, and ridge width in the range that can be fabricated using available fabrication technologies. By optimizing the grating parameters, it is found that the power output can be improved by 40% while increasing the energy efficiency by 6% as compared with the case of a flat tungsten emitter. Reasons for the enhancement are investigated and found to be due to the surface plasmon polariton resonance, which shifts towards lower frequencies. This work shows a possible way of improving NFTPV and sheds light on how grating structures interact with thermal radiation at the nanoscale.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME



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