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- Status: Published
This is a two-part thesis.
Part 1 of this thesis investigates the influence of spatial temperature distribution on the accuracy of performance data of photovoltaic (PV) modules in outdoor conditions and provides physical approaches to improve the spatial temperature distribution of the test modules so an accurate performance data can be obtained in the field. Conventionally, during outdoor performance testing, a single thermocouple location is used on the backsheet or back glass of a test module. This study clearly indicates that there is a large spatial temperature difference between various thermocouple locations within a module. Two physical approaches or configurations were experimented to improve the spatial temperature uniformity: thermally insulating the inner and outer surface of the frame; backsheet and inner surface of the frame. All the data were compared with un-insulated conventional configuration. This study was performed in an array setup of six modules under two different preconditioning electrical configurations, Voc and MPPT over several clear sunny days. This investigation concludes that the best temperature uniformity and the most accurate I-V data can be obtained only by thermally insulating the inner and outer frame surfaces or by using the average of four thermocouple temperatures, as specified in IEC 61853-2, without any thermal insulation.
Part 2 of this thesis analyzes the field data obtained from old PV power plants using various statistical techniques to identify the most influential degradation modes on fielded PV modules in two different climates: hot-dry (Arizona); cold-dry (New York). Performance data and visual inspection data of 647 modules fielded in five different power plants were analyzed. Statistical tests including hypothesis testing were carried out to identify the I-V parameter(s) that are affected the most. The affected performance parameters (Isc, Voc, FF and Pmax) were then correlated with the defects to determine the most dominant defect affecting power degradation. Analysis indicates that the cell interconnect discoloration (or solder bond deterioration) is the dominant defect in hot-dry climate leading to series resistance increase and power loss, while encapsulant delamination is being the most dominant defect in cold-dry climate leading to cell mismatch and power loss.
The rapid progress of solution-phase synthesis has led colloidal nanocrystals one of the most versatile nanoscale materials, provided opportunities to tailor material's properties, and boosted related technological innovations. Colloidal nanocrystal-based materials have been demonstrated success in a variety of applications, such as LEDs, electronics, solar cells and thermoelectrics. In each of these applications, the thermal transport property plays a big role. An undesirable temperature rise due to inefficient heat dissipation could lead to deleterious effects on devices' performance and lifetime. Hence, the first project is focused on investigating the thermal transport in colloidal nanocrystal solids. This study answers the question that how the molecular structure of nanocrystals affect the thermal transport, and provides insights for future device designs. In particular, PbS nanocrystals is used as a monitoring system, and the core diameter, ligand length and ligand binding group are systematically varied to study the corresponding effect on thermal transport.
Next, a fundamental study is presented on the phase stability and solid-liquid transformation of metallic (In, Sn and Bi) colloidal nanocrystals. Although the phase change of nanoparticles has been a long-standing research topic, the melting behavior of colloidal nanocrytstals is largely unexplored. In addition, this study is of practical importance to nanocrystal-based applications that operate at elevated temperatures. Embedding colloidal nanocrystals into thermally-stable polymer matrices allows preserving nanocrystal size throughout melt-freeze cycles, and therefore enabling observation of stable melting features. Size-dependent melting temperature, melting enthalpy and melting entropy have all been measured and discussed.
In the next two chapters, focus has been switched to developing colloidal nanocrystal-based phase change composites for thermal energy storage applications. In Chapter 4, a polymer matrix phase change nanocomposite has been created. In this composite, the melting temperature and energy density could be independently controlled by tuning nanocrystal diameter and volume fractions. In Chapter 5, a solution-phase synthesis on metal matrix-metal nanocrytal composite is presented. This approach enables excellent morphological control over nanocrystals and demonstrated a phase change composite with a thermal conductivity 2 - 3 orders of magnitude greater than typical phase change materials, such as organics and molten salts.
Current organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) suffer from the low light extraction efficiency. In this thesis, novel OLED structures including photonic crystal, Fabry-Perot resonance cavity and hyperbolic metamaterials were numerically simulated and theoretically investigated. Finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) method was employed to numerically simulate the light extraction efficiency of various 3D OLED structures. With photonic crystal structures, a maximum of 30% extraction efficiency is achieved. A higher external quantum efficiency of 35% is derived after applying Fabry-Perot resonance cavity into OLEDs. Furthermore, different factors such as material properties, layer thicknesses and dipole polarizations and locations have been studied. Moreover, an upper limit for the light extraction efficiency of 80% is reached theoretically with perfect reflector and single dipole polarization and location. To elucidate the physical mechanism, transfer matrix method is introduced to calculate the spectral-hemispherical reflectance of the multilayer OLED structures. In addition, an attempt of using hyperbolic metamaterial in OLED has been made and resulted in 27% external quantum efficiency, due to the similar mechanism of wave interference as Fabry-Perot structure. The simulation and optimization methods and findings would facilitate the design of next generation, high-efficiency OLED devices.
III-nitride InGaN light-emitting diodes (LEDs) enable wide range of applications in solid-state lighting, full-color displays, and high-speed visible-light communication. Conventional InGaN quantum well LEDs grown on polar c-plane substrate suffer from quantum confined Stark effect due to the large internal polarization-related fields, leading to a reduced radiative recombination rate and device efficiency, which limits the performance of InGaN LEDs in high-speed communication applications. To circumvent these negative effects, non-trivial-cavity designs such as flip-chip LEDs, metallic grating coated LEDs are proposed. This oral defense will show the works on the high-modulation-speed LEDs from basic ideas to applications. Fundamental principles such as rate equations for LEDs/laser diodes (LDs), plasmonic effects, Purcell effects will be briefly introduced. For applications, the modal properties of flip-chip LEDs are solved by implementing finite difference method in order to study the modulation response. The emission properties of highly polarized InGaN LEDs coated by metallic gratings are also investigated by finite difference time domain method.
The energy crisis in the past decades has greatly boosted the search for alternatives to traditional fossil foils, and solar energy stands out as an important candidate due to its cleanness and abundance. However, the relatively low conversion efficiency and energy density strongly hinder the utilization of solar energy in wider applications. This thesis focuses on employing metamaterials and metafilms to enhance the conversion efficiency of solar thermal, solar thermophotovoltaic (STPV) and photovoltaic systems.
A selective metamaterial solar absorber is designed in this thesis to maximize the absorbed solar energy and minimize heat dissipation through thermal radiation. The theoretically designed metamaterial solar absorber exhibits absorptance higher than 95% in the solar spectrum but shows emittance less than 4% in the IR regime. This metamaterial solar absorber is further experimentally fabricated and optically characterized. Moreover, a metafilm selective absorber with stability up to 600oC is introduced, which exhibits solar absorptance higher than 90% and IR emittance less than 10%.
Solar thermophotovoltaic energy conversion enhanced by metamaterial absorbers and emitters is theoretically investigated in this thesis. The STPV system employing selective metamaterial absorber and emitter is investigated in this work, showing its conversion efficiency between 8% and 10% with concentration factor varying between 20 and 200. This conversion efficiency is remarkably enhanced compared with the conversion efficiency for STPV system employing black surfaces (<2.5%).
Moreover, plasmonic light trapping in ultra-thin solar cells employing concave grating nanostructures is discussed in this thesis. The plasmonic light trapping inside an ultrathin GaAs layer in the film-coupled metamaterial structure is numerically demonstrated. By exciting plasmonic resonances inside this structure, the short-circuit current density for the film-coupled metamaterial solar cell is three times the short-circuit current for a free-standing GaAs layer.
The dissertation is concluded by discussing about the future work on selective solar thermal absorbers, STPV/TPV systems and light trapping structures. Possibilities to design and fabricate solar thermal absorber with better thermal stability will be discussed, the experimental work of TPV system will be conducted, and the light trapping in organic and perovskite solar cells will be looked into.
Material extrusion based rapid prototyping systems have been used to produceprototypes for several years. They have been quite important in the additive manufacturing field, and have gained popularity in research, development and manufacturing in a wide field of applications. There has been a lot of interest in using these technologies to produce end use parts, and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) has gained traction in leading the transition of rapid prototyping technologies to rapid manufacturing. But parts built with the FDM process exhibit property anisotropy. Many studies have been conducted into process optimization, material properties and even post processing of parts, but were unable to solve the strength anisotropy issue. To address this, an optical heating system has been proposed to achieve localized heating of the pre- deposition surface prior to material deposition over the heated region. This occurs in situ within the build process, and aims to increase the interface temperature to above glass transition (Tg), to trigger an increase in polymer chain diffusion, and in extension, increase the strength of the part. An increase in flexural strength by 95% at the layer interface has been observed when the optical heating method was implemented, thereby improving property isotropy of the FDM part. This approach can be designed to perform real time control of inter-filament and interlayer temperatures across the build volume of a part, and can be tuned to achieve required mechanical properties.
An integrated experimental and numerical investigation for laser-generated optoacoustic wave propagation in structural materials is performed. First, a multi-physics simulation model is proposed to simulate the pulsed laser as a point heat source which hits the surface of an aluminum sheet. The pulsed laser source can generate a localized heating on the surface of the plate and induce an in-plane stress wave. ANSYS – a finite element analysis software – is used to build the 3D model and a coupled thermal-mechanical simulation is performed in which the heat flux is determined by an empirical laser-heat conversion relationship. The displacement and stress field-histories are obtained to get the time of arrival and wave propagation speed of the stress wave. The effect of an added point mass is investigated in detail to observe the local material perturbation and remote wave signals. Following this, the experimental investigation of optoacoustic wave is also performed. A new experimental setup and control is developed and assembled in-house. Various laser firing parameters are investigated experimentally and the optimal combination is used for the experimental testing. Matrix design for different testing conditions is also proposed to include the effect of wave path, sampling procedure, and local point mass on the optoacoustic wave propagation. The developed numerical simulation results are validated with experimental observations. It is shown that the proposed experimental setup can offer a potential fast scanning method for damage detection (local property change) for plate-like structural component.
Soiling is one of the major environmental factors causing the negative performance of photovoltaic (PV) modules. Dust particles, air pollution particles, pollen, bird droppings and other industrial airborne particles are some natural sources that cause soiling. The thickness of soiling layer has a direct impact on the performance of PV modules. This phenomenon occurs over a period of time with many unpredictable environmental variables indicated above. This situation makes it difficult to calculate or predict the soiling effect on performance. The dust particles vary from one location to the other in terms of particle size, color and chemical composition. These properties influence the extent of performance (current) loss, spectral loss and adhesion of soil particles on the surface of the PV modules. To address this uncontrolled environmental issues, research institutes around the world have started designing indoor artificial soiling stations to deposit soil layers in various controlled environments using reference soil samples and/or soil samples collected from the surface of PV modules installed in the locations of interest. This thesis is part of a twin thesis. The first thesis (this thesis) authored by Shanmukha Mantha is related to the development of soiling stations and the second thesis authored by Darshan Choudhary is associated with the characterization of the soiled samples (glass coupons, one-cell PV coupons and multi-cell PV coupons). This thesis is associated with the development of three types of indoor artificial soiling deposition techniques replicating the outside environmental conditions to achieve required soil density, uniformity and other required properties. The three types of techniques are: gravity deposition method, dew deposition method, and humid deposition method. All the three techniques were applied on glass coupons, single-cell PV laminates containing monocrystalline silicon cells and multi-cell PV laminates containing polycrystalline silicon cells. The density and uniformity for each technique on all targets are determined. In this investigation, both reference soil sample (Arizona road dust, ISO 12103-1) and the soil samples collected from the surface of installed PV modules were used. All the three techniques are compared with each other to determine the best method for uniform deposition at varying thickness levels. The advantages, limitations and improvements made in each technique are discussed.
The proposed research mainly focuses on employing tunable materials to achieve dynamic control of radiative heat transfer in both far and near fields for thermal management. Vanadium dioxide (VO2), which undergoes a phase transition from insulator to metal at the temperature of 341 K, is one tunable material being applied. The other one is graphene, whose optical properties can be tuned by chemical potential through external bias or chemical doping.
In the far field, a VO2-based metamaterial thermal emitter with switchable emittance in the mid-infrared has been theoretically studied. When VO2 is in the insulating phase, high emittance is observed at the resonance frequency of magnetic polaritons (MPs), while the structure becomes highly reflective when VO2 turns metallic. A VO2-based thermal emitter with tunable emittance is also demonstrated due to the excitation of MP at different resonance frequencies when VO2 changes phase. Moreover, an infrared thermal emitter made of graphene-covered SiC grating could achieve frequency-tunable emittance peak via the change of the graphene chemical potential.
In the near field, a radiation-based thermal rectifier is constructed by investigating radiative transfer between VO2 and SiO2 separated by nanometer vacuum gap distances. Compared to the case where VO2 is set as the emitter at 400 K as a metal, when VO2 is considered as the receiver at 300 K as an insulator, the energy transfer is greatly enhanced due to the strong surface phonon polariton (SPhP) coupling between insulating VO2 and SiO2. A radiation-based thermal switch is also explored by setting VO2 as both the emitter and the receiver. When both VO2 emitter and receiver are at the insulating phase, the switch is at the “on” mode with a much enhanced heat flux due to strong SPhP coupling, while the near-field radiative transfer is greatly suppressed when the emitting VO2 becomes metallic at temperatures higher than 341K during the “off” mode. In addition, an electrically-gated thermal modulator made of graphene covered SiC plates is theoretically studied with modulated radiative transport by varying graphene chemical potential. Moreover, the MP effect on near-field radiative transport has been investigated by spectrally enhancing radiative heat transfer between two metal gratings.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) industry is tipped to be one of the front-runners in the renewable industry. Typically, PV module manufacturers provide a linear or step warranty of 80% of original power over 25 years. This power loss during the field exposure is primarily attributed to the development of performance affecting defects in the PV modules. As many as 86 different defects can occur in a PV module. One of the major defects that can cause significant power loss is the interconnect metallization system (IMS) degradation which is the focus of this thesis. The IMS is composed of cell-interconnect (cell-ribbon interconnect) and string-interconnect (ribbon-ribbon interconnect). The cell interconnect is in turn composed of silver metallization (fingers and busbars) and solder bonds between silver busbar and copper ribbon. Weak solder bonding between copper ribbon and busbar of a cell results in increase of series resistance that in turn affects the fill factor causing a power drop. In this thesis work, the results obtained from various non-destructive and destructive experiments performed on modules exposed in three different climates (Arizona - Hot and Dry, Mexico - Warm and Humid, and California - Temperate) are presented. These experiments include light I-V measurements, dark I-V measurements, infrared imaging, extraction of test samples from the modules, peel strength measurements and four-point resistance measurements. The extraction of test samples was performed using a mechanical method and a chemical method. The merits and demerits of these two methods are presented. A drop of 10.33% in fill factor was observed for a 0.05Ω increase in the series resistance of the modules investigated in this work. Different combinations in a cell that can cause series resistance increase were considered and their effect on fill factor were observed using four-point probe experiments. Peel test experiments were conducted to correlate the effect of series resistance on the ribbon peel strength. Finally, climate specific thermal modelling was performed for 4 different sites over 20 years in order to calculate the accumulated thermal fatigue and also to evaluate its correlation, if any, with the increase of series resistance.