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Experimental investigation of near-field thermophotonic energy harvesting devices

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General information

Reference : UMR5008-PIECHA-002
Date of publication : Friday, July 24, 2020
Scientific Responsible name : Dr Pierre-Olivier CHAPUIS
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 January 2021
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

Thermal energy harvesting involving its conversion into electrical energy is a means of limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Different effects allow this conversion, depending on the hot source temperature and the dimensions of the planned installations. In thermophotovoltaics, thermal energy is collected by absorbing thermal radiation (radiative heat transfer from the source) and the conversion is performed by photovoltaic means, with dedicated infrared cells.
The Micro and Nanoscale Heat Transfer (MiNT) team at CETHIL has verified theoretically and then experimentally that the performance of thermophotovoltaic devices is greatly improved when the distance between the radiative source and the photovoltaic cell is reduced to reach the so-called "near field" (sub-micrometric) regime. One of the key points is to match the spectrum of thermal radiation emitted by the source to that which can be converted by the cell.
This PhD thesis project, which is essentially experimental, will consist in modifying the current experiment, based on AFM microscopy, to make it a "thermophotonic" converter, where the spectrum of the emitted radiation is controlled electrically like a in light-emitting diode (LED) and is no longer fixed, unlike the thermophotovoltaic case. Near-field thermal radiation experiments, thermophotovoltaic and thermophotonic conversions are planned.

Work Context

The PhD project will be carried out in the "Micro and Nanoscale Heat Transfer" (MiNT) group at the Centre for Energy and Thermal Sciences of Lyon (CETHIL), on the La Doua-LyonTech campus in Villeurbanne (Lyon area). The MiNT team, made up of around fifteen people including 5 faculties, is notably a pioneer at European and global level for thermal AFM microscopy.

Additional Information

The PhD thesis project will be carried out within the framework of European project TPX-Power (project proposal entitled WASTE-NOT) dedicated to the recovery of thermal energy by radiative means (thermophotonics). The consortium involves Finnish, Dutch and French researchers. The project, which will begin in January 2021.

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