Thermophotovoltaic approaches that take advantage of near-field evanescent modes are being actively explored due to their potential for high-power density and high-efficiency energy conversion. However, progress towards functional near-field thermophotovoltaic devices has been limited by challenges in creating thermally robust planar emitters and photovoltaic cells designed for near-field thermal radiation. Here, we demonstrate record power densities of ~5 kW/m2 at an efficiency of 6.8%, where the efficiency of the system is defined as the ratio of the electrical power output of the PV cell to the radiative heat transfer from the emitter to the PV cell. This was accomplished by developing novel emitter devices that can sustain temperatures as high as 1270 K and positioning them into the near-field (<100 nm) of custom-fabricated InGaAs-based thin film photovoltaic cells. In addition to demonstrating efficient heat-to-electricity conversion at high power density, we report the performance of thermophotovoltaic devices across a range of emitter temperatures (~800 K–1270 K) and gap sizes (70 nm–7 µm). The methods and insights achieved in this work represent a critical step towards understanding the fundamental principles of harvesting thermal energy in the near-field.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)