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Up Conversion for Photovoltaics

  • Gavin Conibeer (a1), Avi Shalav (a2), Thorsten Trupke (a3) and Martin Green (a4)


An up-converter (UC) absorbs two or more low-energy photons and emits a single high-energy photon. A down-converter (DC) absorbs a single high-energy photon and emits two or more low energy photons. The current work extends previous limiting efficiency analysis to a combination of UC and DC; an up converter with two levels; and to compare analyses using real air mass data with that modelling the sun as a blackbody. Analysis has been carried out both with the band gap of the cell as an optimized parameter and at a fixed value of 1.1eV. All of UC, DC and two level UC are shown to improve efficiencies for both spectra. Combined UC/DC improves the efficiency further for the 1.1eV band gap but gives a lower efficiency for the optimised band gap. The explanation for this unexpected result is presented based on the small coupling losses that result from absorption/re-emission in the DC. The limiting efficiencies of such an approach are very similar to several other third generation concepts such as impurity PV, Intermediate Band solar cells or three level tandems. However in practice the UC (or DC) approach has the advantage that the optical properties of the UC are decoupled from the electrical properties of the PV cell, and hence each can be optimised independently. This means that it may be the simplest third generation approach to implement using existing PV cells, if a reasonable UC efficiency can be obtained. Nonetheless experimental work on realising UC is at an early stage. Some of the work on rare earth doped UC is reviewed together with the potential to improve the spectral sensitivity to below band gap radiation.



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