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Thermal Energy Harvesting by Thermo-photovoltaic conversion: from elementary blocks to an integrated prototype
ESIEE Paris - Université Paris Est, NOISY LE GRAND
Applied Physics Electromagnetism Electrical, Electronic and Semiconductors 
Full Description:

In TPV, thermal radiation of a hot body (any part of a domestic or industrial device dissipating heat for instance) is converted into electricity using an appropriate photovoltaic cell. The heat source can also be an absorber of solar radiation. We then refer to solar TPV as a way to overcome classical PV limitations. Such devices can be used to power distributed sensors and / or to harvest heat waste in various urban domestic / industrial processes. TPV devices are addressed in the present project for mainly two reasons:

(i) TPV conversion of thermal infrared radiation has experienced a promising revival with the development of low band-gap p-n junctions in the early 90s. Since that time, very few experimental devices have been developed1–3 in

spite of increasing theoretical studies ; (ii) The performances of the most recent experimental setups1 are still far from theoretical efficiency limits4,5 : 3% in experiments versus almost 60% in theoretical predictions. This gap between theory and experiments leaves large room for improvement of current designs. The control of the thermal source radiative properties, hence the spectrum of incident thermal radiation through spectrally selective surfaces, is the key parameter to reduce this gap6.

We previously developed5,7 elementary building blocks of a selective emitters based TPV device . The main challenge is now to globally optimize the device while integrating the elementary blocks to obtain a demonstrator. The realized prototype will be the first national TPV demonstrator and one of a few worldwide using photonic selective emitters. For that purpose, three main goals are targeted:

1. The numerical optimization of the radiative properties of 1D and 2D micro/nano structured selective emitters and the proposition of new designs. Numerical tools based on transfer matrix, RCWA, and FEM methods will be used.
In most recent literature; calculations are generally performed at room temperature while the devices are expected to operate at high temperature. To go beyond the state of the art in the field, a particular attention will be given to the temperature dependence of the materials properties, their dielectric permittivity for instance, in electromagnetic calculations.
2. The fabrication and characterization of infrared selective emitters optimized numerically8: their implementation with materials and fabrication processes available at ESYCOM lab is the main challenge.

3. The integration of the fabricated and characterized selective emitters in a TPV prototype and the characterization of its performances.


1 A. Lenert, D.M. Bierman, Y. Nam, W.R. Chan, I. Celanović, M. Soljačić, and E.N. Wang, Nat. Nanotechnol. 9, 126 (2014).

2 A. Datas and C. Algora, Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 21, 1025 (2013).

3 A.S. Vlasov, V.P. Khvostikov, O.A. Khvostikova, P.Y. Gazaryan, S.V. Sorokina, and V.M. Andreev, in AIP Conf. Proc. (AIP Publishing, 2007), pp. 327–334.

4 Y.X. Yeng, M. Ghebrebrhan, P. Bermel, W.R. Chan, J.D. Joannopoulos, M. Soljačić, and I. Celanovic, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 109, 2280 (2012).
5 E. Nefzaoui, J. Drevillon, and K. Joulain, J. Appl. Phys. 111, 084316 (2012).

6 A. Lenert, Y. Nam, D.M. Bierman, and E.N. Wang, Opt. Express 22, A1604 (2014).

7 J. Drevillon, K. Joulain, P. Ben-Abdallah, and E. Nefzaoui, J. Appl. Phys. 109, 034315 (2011).

8 E. Nefzaoui, J. Drevillon, and K. Joulain, in Proc. Int. Conf. Evol. Comput. Part Int. Jt. Conf. Comput. Intell. IJCCI (Valencia, Spain, 2010), pp. 219–224.

Requirements: A master’s degree (or equivalent) in photonics, physical science, electrical engineering or mechanical engineering is required, Experimental skills in photonics and optical characterization, Experience with micro/nanofabrication techniques and clean room facilities are highly appreciated. Competencies in numerical simulation and programming would be a plus.

Supervisors: Pr. Tarik BOUROUINA ( , Pr. Elodie RICHALOT ( , Dr. Philippe Basset (, Dr. Elyes NEFZOAUI (

Research Groups: The groups "Capteurs et Microsystèmes de Mesure (CMM)" and "Electromagnétisme, Applications et Mesures (EAM)" of ESYCOM laboratory

Posted on: 29 March 2016Deadline to apply: 30 April 2016Start Date: 01 October 2016 Duration: 36 months
The Fund category is Public Funding - University and the salary is 20-25k€ annual gross
Doctoral School is Mathematics and information and communication science & technology (MSTIC) in the Ile-de-France Region.

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