Abstract

We present to the best of our knowledge the first successful demonstration of a planar, self-tracking solar concentrator system capable of a 2-dimensional angular acceptance of over 40°. The light responsive mechanism allows for efficient waveguide coupling and light concentration independently of the angle of incidence within the angular range. A coupling feature is created at the focal spot of the optical system by locally melting a phase change material which acts as an actuator due to the large thermal expansion. A dichroic prism membrane reflects the visible light so that it is efficiently coupled into a waveguide at the point of the created coupling feature. We show simulation results for concentration and efficiency, validated by an experimental proof of concept demonstration of a self-tracking concentrator array element. Simulations show that a system based on this approach can achieve 150X effective concentration by scaling the system collecting area to reasonable dimensions (40 x 10 cm2).

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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References

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  1. R. Swanson, “Photovoltaic Concentrators,” in Handbook of Photovoltaic Science A. Luque, and S. Hegedus (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2005), pp. 449–503.
  2. http://www.entechsolar.com/products/solarvolt.htm , last access 13.01.2014.
  3. http://fn-solar.com/#2 , last access 13.01.2014.
  4. R. Reisfeld and S. Neuman, “Planar solar energy converter and concentrator based on uranyl-doped glass,” Nature 274(5667), 144–145 (1978).
    [CrossRef]
  5. R. Reisfeld, “New developments in luminescence for solar energy utilization,” Opt. Mater. 32(9), 850–856 (2010).
    [CrossRef]
  6. J. M. Castro, D. Zhang, B. Myer, and R. K. Kostuk, “Energy collection efficiency of holographic planar solar concentrators,” Appl. Opt. 49(5), 858–870 (2010).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  7. J. H. Karp, E. J. Tremblay, and J. E. Ford, “Planar micro-optic solar concentrator,” Opt. Express 18(2), 1122–1133 (2010).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  8. F. Duerr, Y. Meuret, and H. Thienpont, “Tracking integration in concentrating photovoltaics using laterally moving optics,” Opt. Express 19(S3Suppl 3), A207–A218 (2011).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  9. J. M. Hallas, K. A. Baker, J. H. Karp, E. J. Tremblay, and J. E. Ford, “Two-axis solar tracking accomplished through small lateral translations,” Appl. Opt. 51(25), 6117–6124 (2012).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  10. M. J. Clifford and D. Eastwood, “Design of a novel passive tracker,” Sol. Energy 77(3), 269–280 (2004).
    [CrossRef]
  11. http://www.zomeworks.com/photovoltaic-tracking-racks/ , last access 14.11.2013.
  12. K. A. Baker, J. H. Karp, E. J. Tremblay, J. M. Hallas, and J. E. Ford, “Reactive self-tracking solar concentrators: concept, design, and initial materials characterization,” Appl. Opt. 51(8), 1086–1094 (2012).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  13. P. Schmaelzle and G. Whiting, “Lower critical solution temperature (LCST) polymers as a self-adaptive alternative to mechanical tracking for solar energy harvesting devices,” MRS Fall Meeting & Exhibit (2010).
  14. V. Zagolla, E. Tremblay, and C. Moser, “Light induced fluidic waveguide coupling,” Opt. Express 20(S6), A924–A931 (2012).
    [CrossRef]
  15. V. Zagolla, E. Tremblay, and C. Moser, “Efficiency of a micro-bubble reflector based, self-adaptive waveguide solar concentrator,” Proc. SPIE 8620, 862010 (2013).
    [CrossRef]
  16. E. J. Tremblay, D. Loterie, and C. Moser, “Thermal phase change actuator for self-tracking solar concentration,” Opt. Express 20(S6), A964–A976 (2012).
    [CrossRef]
  17. E. T. Carlen and C. H. Mastrangelo, “Electrothermally activated paraffin microactuators,” J. Microelectromech. Syst. 11(3), 165–174 (2002).
    [CrossRef]
  18. H. J. Sant, T. Ho, and B. K. Gale, “An in situ heater for a phase-change-material-based actuation system,” J. Micromech. Microeng. 20(8), 085039 (2010).
    [CrossRef]
  19. E. Tremblay, V. Zagolla, D. Loterie, and C. Moser, “Self-tracking planar concentrator using a solar actuated phase-change mechanism,” Proc. SPIE 8620, 862011 (2013).
    [CrossRef]
  20. A. Shah, H. Schade, M. Vanecek, J. Meier, E. Vallat-Sauvain, N. Wyrsch, U. Kroll, C. Droz, and J. Bailat, “Thin-film silicon solar cell technology,” Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 12(23), 113–142 (2004).
    [CrossRef]
  21. http://www.altadevices.com/pdfs/single_cell.pdf , last access 13.01.2014.
  22. S. Liu, D. Ding, S. R. Johnson, and Y.-H. Zhang, “Optimal optical designs for planar GaAs single-junction solar cells with textured and reflective surfaces,” Proc. SPIE 8256, 82560M (2012).
    [CrossRef]

2013 (2)

V. Zagolla, E. Tremblay, and C. Moser, “Efficiency of a micro-bubble reflector based, self-adaptive waveguide solar concentrator,” Proc. SPIE 8620, 862010 (2013).
[CrossRef]

E. Tremblay, V. Zagolla, D. Loterie, and C. Moser, “Self-tracking planar concentrator using a solar actuated phase-change mechanism,” Proc. SPIE 8620, 862011 (2013).
[CrossRef]

2012 (5)

2011 (1)

2010 (4)

R. Reisfeld, “New developments in luminescence for solar energy utilization,” Opt. Mater. 32(9), 850–856 (2010).
[CrossRef]

J. M. Castro, D. Zhang, B. Myer, and R. K. Kostuk, “Energy collection efficiency of holographic planar solar concentrators,” Appl. Opt. 49(5), 858–870 (2010).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

J. H. Karp, E. J. Tremblay, and J. E. Ford, “Planar micro-optic solar concentrator,” Opt. Express 18(2), 1122–1133 (2010).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

H. J. Sant, T. Ho, and B. K. Gale, “An in situ heater for a phase-change-material-based actuation system,” J. Micromech. Microeng. 20(8), 085039 (2010).
[CrossRef]

2004 (2)

A. Shah, H. Schade, M. Vanecek, J. Meier, E. Vallat-Sauvain, N. Wyrsch, U. Kroll, C. Droz, and J. Bailat, “Thin-film silicon solar cell technology,” Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 12(23), 113–142 (2004).
[CrossRef]

M. J. Clifford and D. Eastwood, “Design of a novel passive tracker,” Sol. Energy 77(3), 269–280 (2004).
[CrossRef]

2002 (1)

E. T. Carlen and C. H. Mastrangelo, “Electrothermally activated paraffin microactuators,” J. Microelectromech. Syst. 11(3), 165–174 (2002).
[CrossRef]

1978 (1)

R. Reisfeld and S. Neuman, “Planar solar energy converter and concentrator based on uranyl-doped glass,” Nature 274(5667), 144–145 (1978).
[CrossRef]

Bailat, J.

A. Shah, H. Schade, M. Vanecek, J. Meier, E. Vallat-Sauvain, N. Wyrsch, U. Kroll, C. Droz, and J. Bailat, “Thin-film silicon solar cell technology,” Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 12(23), 113–142 (2004).
[CrossRef]

Baker, K. A.

Carlen, E. T.

E. T. Carlen and C. H. Mastrangelo, “Electrothermally activated paraffin microactuators,” J. Microelectromech. Syst. 11(3), 165–174 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Castro, J. M.

Clifford, M. J.

M. J. Clifford and D. Eastwood, “Design of a novel passive tracker,” Sol. Energy 77(3), 269–280 (2004).
[CrossRef]

Ding, D.

S. Liu, D. Ding, S. R. Johnson, and Y.-H. Zhang, “Optimal optical designs for planar GaAs single-junction solar cells with textured and reflective surfaces,” Proc. SPIE 8256, 82560M (2012).
[CrossRef]

Droz, C.

A. Shah, H. Schade, M. Vanecek, J. Meier, E. Vallat-Sauvain, N. Wyrsch, U. Kroll, C. Droz, and J. Bailat, “Thin-film silicon solar cell technology,” Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 12(23), 113–142 (2004).
[CrossRef]

Duerr, F.

Eastwood, D.

M. J. Clifford and D. Eastwood, “Design of a novel passive tracker,” Sol. Energy 77(3), 269–280 (2004).
[CrossRef]

Ford, J. E.

Gale, B. K.

H. J. Sant, T. Ho, and B. K. Gale, “An in situ heater for a phase-change-material-based actuation system,” J. Micromech. Microeng. 20(8), 085039 (2010).
[CrossRef]

Hallas, J. M.

Ho, T.

H. J. Sant, T. Ho, and B. K. Gale, “An in situ heater for a phase-change-material-based actuation system,” J. Micromech. Microeng. 20(8), 085039 (2010).
[CrossRef]

Johnson, S. R.

S. Liu, D. Ding, S. R. Johnson, and Y.-H. Zhang, “Optimal optical designs for planar GaAs single-junction solar cells with textured and reflective surfaces,” Proc. SPIE 8256, 82560M (2012).
[CrossRef]

Karp, J. H.

Kostuk, R. K.

Kroll, U.

A. Shah, H. Schade, M. Vanecek, J. Meier, E. Vallat-Sauvain, N. Wyrsch, U. Kroll, C. Droz, and J. Bailat, “Thin-film silicon solar cell technology,” Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 12(23), 113–142 (2004).
[CrossRef]

Liu, S.

S. Liu, D. Ding, S. R. Johnson, and Y.-H. Zhang, “Optimal optical designs for planar GaAs single-junction solar cells with textured and reflective surfaces,” Proc. SPIE 8256, 82560M (2012).
[CrossRef]

Loterie, D.

E. Tremblay, V. Zagolla, D. Loterie, and C. Moser, “Self-tracking planar concentrator using a solar actuated phase-change mechanism,” Proc. SPIE 8620, 862011 (2013).
[CrossRef]

E. J. Tremblay, D. Loterie, and C. Moser, “Thermal phase change actuator for self-tracking solar concentration,” Opt. Express 20(S6), A964–A976 (2012).
[CrossRef]

Mastrangelo, C. H.

E. T. Carlen and C. H. Mastrangelo, “Electrothermally activated paraffin microactuators,” J. Microelectromech. Syst. 11(3), 165–174 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Meier, J.

A. Shah, H. Schade, M. Vanecek, J. Meier, E. Vallat-Sauvain, N. Wyrsch, U. Kroll, C. Droz, and J. Bailat, “Thin-film silicon solar cell technology,” Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 12(23), 113–142 (2004).
[CrossRef]

Meuret, Y.

Moser, C.

V. Zagolla, E. Tremblay, and C. Moser, “Efficiency of a micro-bubble reflector based, self-adaptive waveguide solar concentrator,” Proc. SPIE 8620, 862010 (2013).
[CrossRef]

E. Tremblay, V. Zagolla, D. Loterie, and C. Moser, “Self-tracking planar concentrator using a solar actuated phase-change mechanism,” Proc. SPIE 8620, 862011 (2013).
[CrossRef]

V. Zagolla, E. Tremblay, and C. Moser, “Light induced fluidic waveguide coupling,” Opt. Express 20(S6), A924–A931 (2012).
[CrossRef]

E. J. Tremblay, D. Loterie, and C. Moser, “Thermal phase change actuator for self-tracking solar concentration,” Opt. Express 20(S6), A964–A976 (2012).
[CrossRef]

Myer, B.

Neuman, S.

R. Reisfeld and S. Neuman, “Planar solar energy converter and concentrator based on uranyl-doped glass,” Nature 274(5667), 144–145 (1978).
[CrossRef]

Reisfeld, R.

R. Reisfeld, “New developments in luminescence for solar energy utilization,” Opt. Mater. 32(9), 850–856 (2010).
[CrossRef]

R. Reisfeld and S. Neuman, “Planar solar energy converter and concentrator based on uranyl-doped glass,” Nature 274(5667), 144–145 (1978).
[CrossRef]

Sant, H. J.

H. J. Sant, T. Ho, and B. K. Gale, “An in situ heater for a phase-change-material-based actuation system,” J. Micromech. Microeng. 20(8), 085039 (2010).
[CrossRef]

Schade, H.

A. Shah, H. Schade, M. Vanecek, J. Meier, E. Vallat-Sauvain, N. Wyrsch, U. Kroll, C. Droz, and J. Bailat, “Thin-film silicon solar cell technology,” Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 12(23), 113–142 (2004).
[CrossRef]

Shah, A.

A. Shah, H. Schade, M. Vanecek, J. Meier, E. Vallat-Sauvain, N. Wyrsch, U. Kroll, C. Droz, and J. Bailat, “Thin-film silicon solar cell technology,” Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 12(23), 113–142 (2004).
[CrossRef]

Thienpont, H.

Tremblay, E.

V. Zagolla, E. Tremblay, and C. Moser, “Efficiency of a micro-bubble reflector based, self-adaptive waveguide solar concentrator,” Proc. SPIE 8620, 862010 (2013).
[CrossRef]

E. Tremblay, V. Zagolla, D. Loterie, and C. Moser, “Self-tracking planar concentrator using a solar actuated phase-change mechanism,” Proc. SPIE 8620, 862011 (2013).
[CrossRef]

V. Zagolla, E. Tremblay, and C. Moser, “Light induced fluidic waveguide coupling,” Opt. Express 20(S6), A924–A931 (2012).
[CrossRef]

Tremblay, E. J.

Vallat-Sauvain, E.

A. Shah, H. Schade, M. Vanecek, J. Meier, E. Vallat-Sauvain, N. Wyrsch, U. Kroll, C. Droz, and J. Bailat, “Thin-film silicon solar cell technology,” Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 12(23), 113–142 (2004).
[CrossRef]

Vanecek, M.

A. Shah, H. Schade, M. Vanecek, J. Meier, E. Vallat-Sauvain, N. Wyrsch, U. Kroll, C. Droz, and J. Bailat, “Thin-film silicon solar cell technology,” Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 12(23), 113–142 (2004).
[CrossRef]

Wyrsch, N.

A. Shah, H. Schade, M. Vanecek, J. Meier, E. Vallat-Sauvain, N. Wyrsch, U. Kroll, C. Droz, and J. Bailat, “Thin-film silicon solar cell technology,” Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 12(23), 113–142 (2004).
[CrossRef]

Zagolla, V.

E. Tremblay, V. Zagolla, D. Loterie, and C. Moser, “Self-tracking planar concentrator using a solar actuated phase-change mechanism,” Proc. SPIE 8620, 862011 (2013).
[CrossRef]

V. Zagolla, E. Tremblay, and C. Moser, “Efficiency of a micro-bubble reflector based, self-adaptive waveguide solar concentrator,” Proc. SPIE 8620, 862010 (2013).
[CrossRef]

V. Zagolla, E. Tremblay, and C. Moser, “Light induced fluidic waveguide coupling,” Opt. Express 20(S6), A924–A931 (2012).
[CrossRef]

Zhang, D.

Zhang, Y.-H.

S. Liu, D. Ding, S. R. Johnson, and Y.-H. Zhang, “Optimal optical designs for planar GaAs single-junction solar cells with textured and reflective surfaces,” Proc. SPIE 8256, 82560M (2012).
[CrossRef]

Appl. Opt. (3)

J. Microelectromech. Syst. (1)

E. T. Carlen and C. H. Mastrangelo, “Electrothermally activated paraffin microactuators,” J. Microelectromech. Syst. 11(3), 165–174 (2002).
[CrossRef]

J. Micromech. Microeng. (1)

H. J. Sant, T. Ho, and B. K. Gale, “An in situ heater for a phase-change-material-based actuation system,” J. Micromech. Microeng. 20(8), 085039 (2010).
[CrossRef]

Nature (1)

R. Reisfeld and S. Neuman, “Planar solar energy converter and concentrator based on uranyl-doped glass,” Nature 274(5667), 144–145 (1978).
[CrossRef]

Opt. Express (4)

Opt. Mater. (1)

R. Reisfeld, “New developments in luminescence for solar energy utilization,” Opt. Mater. 32(9), 850–856 (2010).
[CrossRef]

Proc. SPIE (3)

V. Zagolla, E. Tremblay, and C. Moser, “Efficiency of a micro-bubble reflector based, self-adaptive waveguide solar concentrator,” Proc. SPIE 8620, 862010 (2013).
[CrossRef]

E. Tremblay, V. Zagolla, D. Loterie, and C. Moser, “Self-tracking planar concentrator using a solar actuated phase-change mechanism,” Proc. SPIE 8620, 862011 (2013).
[CrossRef]

S. Liu, D. Ding, S. R. Johnson, and Y.-H. Zhang, “Optimal optical designs for planar GaAs single-junction solar cells with textured and reflective surfaces,” Proc. SPIE 8256, 82560M (2012).
[CrossRef]

Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. (1)

A. Shah, H. Schade, M. Vanecek, J. Meier, E. Vallat-Sauvain, N. Wyrsch, U. Kroll, C. Droz, and J. Bailat, “Thin-film silicon solar cell technology,” Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 12(23), 113–142 (2004).
[CrossRef]

Sol. Energy (1)

M. J. Clifford and D. Eastwood, “Design of a novel passive tracker,” Sol. Energy 77(3), 269–280 (2004).
[CrossRef]

Other (6)

http://www.zomeworks.com/photovoltaic-tracking-racks/ , last access 14.11.2013.

R. Swanson, “Photovoltaic Concentrators,” in Handbook of Photovoltaic Science A. Luque, and S. Hegedus (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2005), pp. 449–503.

http://www.entechsolar.com/products/solarvolt.htm , last access 13.01.2014.

http://fn-solar.com/#2 , last access 13.01.2014.

http://www.altadevices.com/pdfs/single_cell.pdf , last access 13.01.2014.

P. Schmaelzle and G. Whiting, “Lower critical solution temperature (LCST) polymers as a self-adaptive alternative to mechanical tracking for solar energy harvesting devices,” MRS Fall Meeting & Exhibit (2010).

Supplementary Material (2)

» Media 1: AVI (3468 KB)     
» Media 2: AVI (3865 KB)     

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Figures (11)

Fig. 1
Fig. 1

The self-tracking planar concentrator device concept. a) and b) show the focused light for different incoming angles. The coupling feature shifts due to the paraffin actuator reacting to the shifted focal spot. Inset: Long wavelength light (red) is transmitted through a dichroic facet array to heat up the phase-change actuator below (black). The expanded actuator presses the membrane against the waveguide (grey) allowing short wavelength light (bright yellow) to be coupled into the waveguide. The lens array is shown with a largely reduced scale for this conceptual drawing.

Fig. 2
Fig. 2

a) The optical system using two off-the-shelf aspheric lenses to create a flat Petzval field curvature over ± 23° incoming angle. b) The spot size only changes marginally over the set of incoming angles for the two aspheric lens system compared to two plano-convex lenses or a single lens. c,d) Change of the spot size for a single plano-convex lens and the two aspheric lenses. The different colors represent different parts of the optical spectrum (blue = 400nm, green = 550nm, red = 800nm, yellow = 1200nm).

Fig. 3
Fig. 3

Waveguide (transparent vertical rectangle) and dichroic prism membrane (white square layer in the center) fixed in the holder. The phase-change actuator is square and located below the membrane.

Fig. 4
Fig. 4

The solar spectrum (blue) is divided by the dichroic membrane into long (yellow) and short (green) wavelength parts at roughly 750nm. The long wavelength portion is then used to drive the actuator while the short wavelength part is coupled into the waveguide to the PV cell.

Fig. 5
Fig. 5

Paraffin wax is mixed with carbon black (a) and filled into the honeycomb hole array (b). PDMS is spincoated on top to create a flexible membrane and the actuator is sealed on the back with a glass slide(c). d) Top view onto the steel actuator (bright) filled with paraffin wax/carbon black.

Fig. 6
Fig. 6

The effective concentration factor (c) is the product of the geometric concentration factor (a) and the coupling efficiency (b). Reasonable dimensions (40 x 10 cm2, 2mm waveguide) allow an effective concentration of 150X.

Fig. 7
Fig. 7

Schematic of the experimental setup. A single lens-pair was used to couple light into a small waveguide (length y, thickness t).

Fig. 8
Fig. 8

The assembled actuator and the waveguide were tested with a 1 sun solar simulator. A rotations stage (background) will set an angle and the thermal sensor (red) will measure the power output at the waveguide edge as a function of time.

Fig. 9
Fig. 9

a) The dynamic curve shows the behavior of actuator as a function of time for sudden onset, high intensity conditions (0-20 s) and sudden onset, low intensity conditions (21-40 s) for different angles in absolute power values. b) The dynamics of different angles are compared in normalized values. Smaller angles reach 90% of the maximum faster (<4 s) than larger angles (6-10 s). This is a slightly faster than the 8-12 s the heat needs to dissipate and the coupling value reaches value lower than 10%.

Fig. 10
Fig. 10

a) The actuator allows for actuation from −20° to + 20°. The blue curve shows the minimum amount of sunlight at for every angle whereas the yellow curve shows the maximum amount of coupling. b) Comparison of simulated optical efficiencies and the measured experimental result.

Fig. 11
Fig. 11

a) Screenshot from a video made in the lab showing the actuation for different angles. The angular speed is set to exceed the actuation speed. The exit facet therefore darkens after the system being turned until the actuation occurs again. See Media 1. b) Screenshot from a video made in the lab showing the actuation for different angles. The angular speed is set to match the actuation speed. The exit facet is continuously lit throughout the angular range. See Media 2.

Equations (3)

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C C max = 1 sin 2 ( θ max,in ) .
CF= A in A out = x array y array x waveguide t waveguide = y array t waveguide .
CF= A in A out = 12.5 2 m m 2 π 25mm1mm 50.

Metrics