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High-Efficiency Luminescent Solar Concentrators for Photovoltaic Applications


Needell, David Robert (2022) High-Efficiency Luminescent Solar Concentrators for Photovoltaic Applications. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/5r7z-zd88.


Despite an overwhelming abundance of crude solar energy, current photovoltaic systems worldwide harness less than 1% of this available power. As such, emerging solar generation technology must be developed to further spur global adoption -- whereby increased sunlight to power conversion efficiency alongside decreased system costs constitute the primary methods to accomplish this goal. The luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) offers a unique approach to collecting and redirecting large areas of incident light onto small-area solar cells. Relying upon photoluminescent materials (i.e., luminophores) suspended within a dielectric waveguide, the LSC absorbs high energy irradiance and re-emits photons at down-shifted energies into optical waveguide modes.

This thesis presents analytical, computational, and experimental work to illustrate the technical power conversion efficiency limits for LSC-based photovoltaic devices. We begin with a technical description of two LSC numerical models -- a stochastic Monte Carlo ray-trace and a deterministic closed-form approach. We apply these models to quantify the effects of system and component parameters on power conversion efficiency for a number of end-use applications. To validate our modeling and unveil current practical material limits, we fabricate CdSe/CdS and CuInS2/ZnS core/shell quantum dot waveguides hosting embedded InGaP and GaAs photovoltaic cells, respectively. From these measurements, we observe close model-to-experiment matching and report a world-record LSC power conversion efficiency reaching approximately 10% under 1-sun illumination at modest incident to outgoing radiance areas.

Herein we consider four distinct applications for the LSC: (i) single junction LSC devices for terrestrial-based energy generation, (ii) building-integrated LSC form factors for on-site electricity, (iii) multijunction LSC modules for utility-scale installations at high power conversion efficiency, and (iv) ultra-light structures for on-board power in aerospace settings. We organize each chapter according to its end-use application.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Luminescent solar concentrator, Monte Carlo methods, Quantum dots, photovoltaics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Materials Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Atwater, Harry Albert
Thesis Committee:
  • Falson, Joseph (chair)
  • Greer, Julia R.
  • Minnich, Austin J.
  • Atwater, Harry Albert
Defense Date:9 September 2021
Non-Caltech Author Email:davidneedell (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:10072021-154010065
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for Chapter 2. adapted for Chapters 2 and 5. adapted for Chapter 6. adapted for Chapter 5 and Appendix F. adapted for Appendix C. adapted for Chapter 5. adapted for Chapter 7. adapted for Chapter 5. adapted for Chapter 4 and Appendix J. adapted for Chapter 1. adapted for Chapter 3. adapted for Chapter 3.
Needell, David Robert0000-0001-8343-5883
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:14387
Deposited By: David Needell
Deposited On:14 Oct 2021 19:31
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 00:12

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