Monte Carlo simulations of luminescent solar concentrators: a study towards improved performance

Hughes, Michael D.
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Borca-Tasçiuc, Diana-Andra
Kaminski, Deborah A.
Samuel, Johnson
Dutta, Partha S.
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Mechanical engineering
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Luminescent solar concentrators (LSC) are promising devices for low-cost solar energy. LSCs typically consist of a clear sheet imbedded with luminescent specie(s). Through internal reflection, enhanced by luminescent emission, LSCs deliver concentrated light to small-area photovoltaics (PV). The work of this thesis focuses on improving the performance of LSCs through novel design, deployment, modeling, and characterization. A new design of LSC showing enhanced internal reflection is studied and is shown to be a promising multifunctional building material. Next, LSCs are leveraged to exploit the unique optical properties of ultra-thin film solar cells enhanced by plasmonic structures and more than an order of magnitude enhancement is predicted. While these initial investigations are carried out on LSCs utilizing luminescent dyes, the subsequent studies presented investigate the use of inorganic luminescent phosphor powders for a more cost-effective and robust LSC. A novel experimental and simulation approach is developed to characterize radiation transport in phosphor powders which addresses the particulate nature of luminescent phosphors. With this approach, a new LSC design utilizing luminescent phosphor films are realized for the first time and promising results of its performance are presented.
December 2015
School of Engineering
Dept. of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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