Design of emitter structures based on resonant perfect absorption for thermophotovoltaic applications

Jonathan J Foley IV, Craig Ungaro, Keye Sun, Mool C Gupta, Stephen K Gray

Optics Express


We report a class of thermophotovoltaic emitter structures built upon planar films that support resonant modes, known as perfectly-absorbing modes, that facilitate an exceptional optical response for selective emission. These planar structures have several key advantages over previously-proposed designs for TPV applications: they are simple to fabricate, are stable across a range of temperatures and conditions, and are capable of achieving some of the highest spectral efficiencies reported of any class of emitter structure. Utilization of these emitters leads to exceptionally high device efficiencies under low operating temperature conditions, which should open new opportunities for waste heat management. We present a theoretical framework for understanding this performance, and show that this framework can be leveraged as a search algorithm for promising candidate structures. In addition to providing an efficient theoretical methodology for identifying high-performance emitter structures, our methodology provides new insight into underlying design principles and should pave way for future design of structures that are simple to fabricate, temperature stable, and possess exceptional optical properties.