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Upper limit of thermophotovoltaic solar-energy conversion

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The efficiency of the conversion of solar energy into electrical energy by solar cells is improved if the incident solar radiation is first absorbed by an intermediate absorber. The reemitted radiation is directed onto the solar cell. This mode of operation is known as thermophotovoltaic energy conversion. A black-body intermediate absorber is advantageous for small-bandgap solar cells. An even higher improvement is, however, achieved by a selective intermediate absorber with an absorption edge at the energy of the bandgap of the solar cell. Furthermore, if only a narrow spectral interval of radiation near the absorption edge is transmitted through a filter from the intermediate absorber to the solar cell, a maximum efficiency of 65 percent is obtained for a solar cell and absorber with a bandgap of 0.8 eV.

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Electron Devices, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:27 ,  Issue: 4 )