Improving photovoltaic performance through radiative cooling in both terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments

Improving photovoltaic performance through radiative cooling in both terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments

Year:2015
Author(s):Taqiyyah S. Safi and Jeremy N. Munday
Citation(s):Opt. Express 23 (19), A1120-A1128 (2015)

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Abstract: The method of detailed balance, introduced by Shockley and Queisser, is often used to find an upper theoretical limit for the efficiency of semiconductor pn-junction based photovoltaics. Typically the solar cell is assumed to be at an ambient temperature of 300 K. In this paper, we describe and analyze the use of radiative cooling techniques to lower the solar cell temperature below the ambient to surpass the detailed balance limit for a cell in contact with an ideal heat sink. We show that by combining specifically designed radiative cooling structures with solar cells, efficiencies higher than the limiting efficiency achievable at 300 K can be obtained for solar cells in both terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments. We show that our proposed structure yields an efficiency 0.87% higher than a typical PV module at operating temperatures in a terrestrial application. We also demonstrate an efficiency advantage of 0.4-2.6% for solar cells in an extraterrestrial environment in near-earth orbit.