1834 Wake Forest Road, Olin Physical Laboratory, Olin Physic

https://physics.wfu.edu/wfu-phy-news/colloquium/seminar-spring-2024/ #special event
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Nonrenewable energy resources, such as coal and fossil fuels, wreak havoc on the environment and public health. Further, their price volatility, associated geopolitical tensions, and finite supply restrict these sources from being a long-term solution. Renewable sources, including solar, geothermal, and wind power, present a sustainable approach to meet the world’s energy demands. Solar energy is the most abundant among these resources and is the fastest growing renewable energy worldwide. The solar research community focuses on the challenges of enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, improving accessibility, and developing innovative technologies to maximize solar radiation harvesting.

In this work, we design two projects to address these challenges. The first project is a photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) system. Materials are specifically chosen to be low cost and widely produced in order to promote accessibility. Our PV/T system combines thermal and infrared collection with visible light PVs. We show our 3D system can collect more daylight over a 12-hour period than a traditional planar PV. A prototype PV/T unit, with ethylene glycol as the thermal fluid, generated 1074 J of heat energy over a 30-minute period. This heat energy resulted from the synergistic relationship of the thermal collector pulling the heat away from the PV, keeping it cool and able to maintain performance.

Through a process of spectral splitting, the demonstrator above is expanded to include UV capture more effectively. From this an overall system efficiency of 73.1% was achieved. Importantly, this performance improvement was realized using a set of organic dyes which are widely available and inexpensive.

The second solar energy harvesting project incorporates thermoelectrics as a thermal capture mechanism. Using existing thin film thermoelectric platforms, this work focused on optimizing robust appliques of cost-effective thermoelectrics. This was done by developing new doping routes for the thermoelectric thin films. Ultimately the thermoelectric can be adhered to PVs to provide a path for heat to escape the PV, while generating additional electrical energy in the process.

**Refrehsments will be served following a successful defense 

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