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Inverted metamorphic AlGaInAs/GaInAs tandem thermophotovoltaic cell designed for thermal energy grid storage application

Kevin L Schulte, Ryan M France, Daniel J Friedman, Alina D LaPotin, Asegun Henry, Myles A Steiner


We demonstrate an inverted metamorphic multijunction (IMM) photovoltaic cell comprising lattice-mismatched 1.2 eV AlGaInAs and 1.0 eV GaInAs junctions optimized for high-temperature thermophotovoltaic (TPV) applications. This device differs from traditional IMM solar cells because the mismatched junctions are grown at a single lattice constant. This architecture enables removal of the compositionally graded buffer that otherwise filters light from the junctions below and absorbs sub-bandgap light via free-carrier absorption. Sub-bandgap absorption dramatically reduces the efficiency of TPV systems using high reflectivity cells to enable band edge spectrum filtering. Three components required development to enable this device: (1) a lattice-mismatched 1.2 eV AlGaInAs junction, (2) a metamorphic contact layer grown after the graded buffer, and (3) a transparent tunnel junction that sits in front of the 1.0 eV GaInAs junction. Growth conditions that minimize oxygen defect incorporation maximize AlGaInAs cell quality, enabling a 0.41 V bandgap open circuit voltage offset at 22 mA/cm2 under AM1.5D. A mismatched GaInAs:Se layer is developed as a low resistance contact. Lastly, we develop a GaAsSb:C/GaInP:Se tunnel junction suitable for high-power densities with more transparency than the GaAsSb:C/GaInAs:Se structure used in past IMM cells. We characterize the tandem device under a high-intensity spectrum that approximates the emission from a 2150 °C blackbody radiator and deduce a projected ideal TPV efficiency of 39.9% at ∼30% of the blackbody irradiance and 36% ideal TPV efficiency under the full 118 W/cm2 irradiance. Improvements to the back-surface reflectivity and series resistance are expected to increase the ideal TPV efficiency well above 40%.

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