Rensselaer

Research

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Solar Photovoltaic and Thermo-photovoltaic Technologies

 

Solar TechnologiesSolar Photovoltaic (PV). Solar photovoltaic is the process of converting light (photons) to electricity (voltage). Photovoltaic cells are made from a class of materials known as semiconductors. When sunlight is absorbed by these materials, the solar energy knocks electrons loose from their atoms, allowing the electrons to flow through the material to produce electricity. Solar PV is a critical enabling pathway to remote electrical generation.

CFES' exciting PV research is focused on developing full spectrum technologies that can reduce costs and boost efficiency. These include multi-wavelength stacked PV, thin film, and organic and hybrid inorganic solar cell materials.

Solar Thermal and Thermo-photovoltaic (TPV). Thermophotovoltaic (TPV) energy conversion is a direct conversion process from radiant heat differentials to electricity via photons. TPV systems consist of an emitter and a PV diode cell. Solar thermal can be solar hot water, passive solar room heating or concentrating solar in the form of parabolic-trough systems or power towers. Our TPV research includes the development of new and highly efficient emitters, tunable bandgap semiconductors, and the development and study of thermally adaptive nanomaterials.

Projects

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Systems Engineering & Integration:

  • Group III-V solar cell material growth on recyclable substrate.
  • Material selection and device fabrication.
  • Paintable/printable solar materials.
  • Hybrid (organic/ inorganic) PV cells using semiconductor nanocrystals.
  • Develop silicon based highly efficient TPV technologies with high power density, tunable bandgap semiconductors

Device Development and Testing:

  • Low cost-high efficiency PV technologies, full spectrum solar cells
  • Low power tracking system for solar concentrator
  • Material selection and device fabrication
  • Develop efficient thermal radiator to match long wavelength PV cell
  • Develop prototype system that integrates high performance radiator
  • Development of 600 watt GaSb and InGaSb TPVĀ for self powered furnace system