A critical hurdle to widespread use of polymer based luminescent solar concentrators

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Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering, 2013, 8825
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Luminescent solar concentrators have been studied and improved for over 30 years. Of all moderate gain solar concentrator systems they are fundamentally the most attractive from a range of geometric and optical perspectives for many solar cell materials, for daylighting via light guides, and for some bio-applications. Of most significance is their étendue advantages over mirror and lens systems in terms of best dealing with the diffuse component and varying beam directions of solar radiation. Despite this and some attempted commercial ventures they have yet to achieve their potential. This paper addresses what is for the dominant class of such concentrators, those involving fluorophore doped polymers, especially PMMA, a core residual problem. Their long-term stability outdoors is insufficient. This is not due to UV effects and dye quenching, which can be controlled, but to fast local photo-thermal interactions between the activated dye molecules and the host material. Production of char like nanoscale absorbers may result. These absorb over a broad-band and though very dilute lower output transport efficiency in practical sizes. Data which led to this conclusion is presented, plus possible solutions. Other improvements in LSC polymer technology only have practical value if this core problem is first mitigated. © 2013 SPIE.
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