On the thermodynamic limit of photovoltaic energy conversion

  title={On the thermodynamic limit of photovoltaic energy conversion},
  author={Alexis De Vos and Herman J. Pauwels},
  journal={Applied physics},
An infinite stack ofp—n junctions with smoothly varying bandgap from ∞ to 0 is considered. AnI —V characteristic is derived, which is more correct than the classical exponential characteristic. It is shown that open-circuit operation is a reversible process and leads to the Carnot efficiency, if one defines the efficiency in the way that is usual in the theory of thermodynamic engines. If instead one uses the definition of efficiency usual in photovoltaics, open-circuit mode gives rise to zero… 

On the formula for the upper limit of photovoltaic solar energy conversion efficiency

The formula for the maximum efficiency of photovoltaic energy conversion in tandem solar cells is discussed. This formula is obtained by the use of a thermodynamically founded diode I-V

A Carnot Cycle for the Solar Cell

The Carnot cycle of an electron-hole gas, exchanging heat in the form of blackbody radiation with two heat reservoirs, can be easily determined and used to study the thermodynamics of photovoltaic

A two‐level system as a model for a photovoltaic solar cell

The operation of a photovoltaic solar cell is discussed with a quantum two‐level system as a model. A detailed‐balance calculation is carried out, from which the parameters of the converter,

Thermodynamics of Photovoltaics

A solar cell is a thermodynamic engine working between two heat reservoirs, one at high temperature T 1 (= the temperature of the Sun = 5762 K) and one at low temperature T 2 (= the temperature of

The thermodynamics of the conversion of radiation energy for photovoltaics

A standard thermodynamic theory of energy conversion is corrected by including the return fluxes from the sink to the converter and from the converter to the pump. By also allowing for the limited

Energy and free energy analyses of photovoltaic energy conversion

  • J. Parrott
  • Physics, Engineering
    IEEE Conference on Photovoltaic Specialists
  • 1990
A thermodynamic analysis of the standard solar cell is presented. By using internal energy and entropy continuity equations for the electrons and holes, a free-energy equation for the whole device



The limiting efficiency of an edge-illuminated multigap solar cell

An edge-illuminated multigap photovoltaic system should show an efficiency greater than that obtainable with only a single gap. The theoretical upper limit to the efficiency will occur as the number

Detailed Balance Limit of Efficiency of p‐n Junction Solar Cells

In order to find an upper theoretical limit for the efficiency of p‐n junction solar energy converters, a limiting efficiency, called the detailed balance limit of efficiency, has been calculated for

Limiting efficiencies of ideal single and multiple energy gap terrestrial solar cells

  • C. Henry
  • Physics, Environmental Science
  • 1980
The maximum efficiencies of ideal solar cells are calculated for both single and multiple energy gap cells using a standard air mass 1.5 terrestrial solar spectrum. The calculations of efficiency are

Detailed balance limit of the efficiency of tandem solar cells

The fundamental (detailed balance) limit of the performance of a tandem structure is presented. The model takes into account the fact that a particular cell is not only illuminated by part of the

Limitations and Possibilities for Improvement of Photovoltaic Solar Energy Converters: Part I: Considerations for Earth's Surface Operation

  • M. Wolf
  • Engineering
    Proceedings of the IRE
  • 1960
Seven factors limiting the performance of photovoltaic solar energy converters are listed and explained. They can be classified into basic and technology determined limitations. Possibilities for

Upper limit for the conversion of solar energy

A semiconductor in the solar radiation field acts as a thermal electronic engine. It converts absorbed radiation heat into chemical energy of the excited electron-hole gas. In flow equilibrium, a

Solar energy conversion with fluorescent collectors

A new principle for solar energy conversion is proposed and evaluated theoretically. Collection and concentration of direct and diffuse radiation is possible by the use of a stack of transparent


We shall be interested in the steady state E = S = 0. The pumping system p (the “hot reservoir”) is assumed to deliver entropy and energy at rates S, and En to the working fluid. Heat Q is delivered