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Towards high efficiency photovoltaics for applications in laser power beaming.

Jarvis, Scott D. (2017) Towards high efficiency photovoltaics for applications in laser power beaming. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey.

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This work describes the design, development and characterisation of high efficiency photovoltaics (laser power converters) for the conversion of monochromatic light from a laser source into electrical energy. The technology provides a means of transmitting power wirelessly through free-space, for applications in the remote powering of electrical devices and systems. It also provides a means of efficiently transmitting power though fibre-optic cables, allowing electrical power to be delivered free from electromagnetic interference. The design of the laser power converter is considered for efficient conversion of monochromatic light at a target wavelength of 1550nm. This wavelength was chosen based on its ability to transmit through the atmosphere and silica-based fibre-optics with minimal losses. It also allows for the maximum exposure limit of 1kWm^-2 to be transmitted in free-space, which is eye- and skin-safe. Various semiconductor materials were explored for this design in terms of their maturity, band-gap tunability and lattice matching to common substrates. The laser power converter was then developed based on the material system InGaAsP/InP with a band-gap tuned to match the incident target wavelength. These cells were then characterised using a tunable laser source and the best cell achieved a conversion efficiency (at 20 degrees) of 38.9% at an irradiance of 0.73kWm^-2 at the target wavelength. However, earlier field tests conducted by Dr. Jayanta Mukherjee demonstrated an efficiency of 45% at 1kWm^-2, which is much higher than conventional single-junction solar cells and currently holds the record for monochromatic PVs operating at 1550nm. The various carrier recombination mechanisms that limit the efficiency are then investigated by measuring the cell performance down to temperatures of 100K. In this measurement the efficiency at 39Wm^-2 is shown to increase from 28.6% to 72% over the temperature range 300-100K and approaches the theoretical detailed-balance limit. An advanced temperature-dependent diode and resistance model is then formulated to predict the dominant carrier loss mechanisms at room temperature. It was found that (to a first approximation) defect-related carrier recombination dominates over the temperature range with a lifetime of 5us at room temperature. The model also determined a carrier mobility at room temperature of 12.4 cm^2V^-1s^-1 in the emitter layer, which results in a high sheet resistance and limits carrier transport to the contacts. Finally, the effects of non-uniform illumination (due to the Gaussian laser beam profile) on the device performance is investigated. A detailed carrier transport model is devised to understand the implication of non-uniform illumination on the diffusion and recombination of carriers generated in the top emitter layer. A light-beam-induced-current scan and a carrier-time-of-flight scan across the cell surface is then conducted to determine local changes in the device performance and obtain the carrier transport properties. From this the emitter diffusion coefficient and SRH lifetime (to a first approximation) were found to be 3.96cm^2s^-1 and 5us, which is in good agreement with the temperature-dependent illumination study. This work then proposes a new top contact design, which overcomes the impact of non-uniform illumination and sheet resistance.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors :
Jarvis, Scott D.
Date : 31 August 2017
Funders : The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Contributors :
Depositing User : Scott Jarvis
Date Deposited : 07 Sep 2017 08:14
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 19:25

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