Reference : Solar thermoelectric generators fabricated on a silicon-on-insulator substrate
Scientific journals : Article
Engineering, computing & technology : Electrical & electronics engineering
Solar thermoelectric generators fabricated on a silicon-on-insulator substrate
De Leon, M. T. [> >]
Chong, Harold [> >]
Kraft, Michaël mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Dép. d'électric., électron. et informat. (Inst.Montefiore) > Systèmes microélectroniques intégrés >]
Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering
085011 (12pp) // 085011
Yes (verified by ORBi)
[en] Solar thermal power generation is an attractive electricity generation technology as it is environment-friendly, has the potential for increased efficiency, and has high reliability. The design, modelling, and evaluation of solar thermoelectric generators (STEGs) fabricated on a silicon-on-insulator substrate are presented in this paper. Solar concentration is achieved by using a focusing lens to concentrate solar input onto the membrane of the STEG. A thermal model is developed based on energy balance and heat transfer equations using lumped thermal conductances. This thermal model is shown to be in good agreement with actual measurement results. For a 1 W laser input with a spot size of 1 mm, a maximum open-circuit voltage of 3.06 V is obtained, which translates to a temperature difference of 226 °C across the thermoelements and delivers 25 µW of output power under matched load conditions. Based on solar simulator measurements, a maximum TEG voltage of 803 mV was achieved by using a 50.8 mm diameter plano-convex lens to focus solar input to a TEG with a length of 1000 µm, width of 15 µm, membrane diameter of 3 mm, and 114 thermocouples. This translates to a temperature difference of 18 °C across the thermoelements and an output power under matched load conditions of 431 nW.

This paper demonstrates that by utilizing a solar concentrator to focus solar radiation onto the hot junction of a TEG, the temperature difference across the device is increased; subsequently improving the TEG's efficiency. By using materials that are compatible with standard CMOS and MEMS processes, integration of solar-driven TEGs with on-chip electronics is seen to be a viable way of solar energy harvesting where the resulting microscale system is envisioned to have promising applications in on-board power sources, sensor networks, and autonomous microsystems.
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