A study of two high efficiency energy conversion processes: semiconductor photovoltaics and semiconductor luminescence refrigeration
As the world energy demand increases, semiconductor devices with high energy conversion efficiency become more and more desirable. The energy conversion consists of two distinct processes, namely energy generation and usage. In this dissertation, novel multi-junction solar cells and light emitting diodes (LEDs) are proposed and studied for high energy conversion efficiency in both processes, respectively. The first half of this dissertation discusses the practically achievable energy conversion efficiency limit of solar cells. Since the demonstration of the Si solar cell in 1954, the performance of solar cells has been improved tremendously and recently reached 41.6% energy conversion efficiency. However, it seems rather challenging to further increase the solar cell efficiency. The state-of-the-art triple junction solar cells are analyzed to help understand the limiting factors. To address these issues, the monolithically integrated II-VI and III-V material system is proposed for solar cell applications. This material system covers the entire solar spectrum with a continuous selection of energy bandgaps and can be grown lattice matched on a GaSb substrate. Moreover, six four-junction solar cells are designed for AM0 and AM1.5D solar spectra based on this material system, and new design rules are proposed. The achievable conversion efficiencies for these designs are calculated using the commercial software package Silvaco with real material parameters. The second half of this dissertation studies the semiconductor luminescence refrigeration, which corresponds to over 100% energy usage efficiency. Although cooling has been realized in rare-earth doped glass by laser pumping, semiconductor based cooling is yet to be realized. In this work, a device structure that monolithically integrates a GaAs hemisphere with an InGaAs/GaAs quantum-well thin slab LED is proposed to realize cooling in semiconductor. The device electrical and optical performance is calculated. The proposed device then is fabricated using nine times photolithography and eight masks. The critical process steps, such as photoresist reflow and dry etch, are simulated to insure successful processing. Optical testing is done with the devices at various laser injection levels and the internal quantum efficiency, external quantum efficiency and extraction efficiency are measured.