A fundamental challenge in energy sustainability is efficient utilization of solar energy towards energy‐neutral systems. The current solar cell technologies have been most widely employed to achieve this goal, but are limited to a single‐layer 2D surface. To harvest solar light more efficiently, a multilayer system capable of harvesting solar light in a cuboid through transparent photothermal thin films of iron oxide and a porphyrin compound is developed. Analogous to a multilayer capacitor, an array of transparent, spectral selective, photothermal thin films allows white light to penetrate them, not only collecting photon energy in a 3D space, but generating sufficient heat on each layer with significantly increased total surface area. In this fashion, thermal energy is generated via a multilayer photothermal system that functions as an efficient solar collector, energy converter and generator with high energy density. A solar‐activated thermal energy generator that can produce heat without any power supply and reach a maximum temperature of 76.1 °C is constructed. With a constant incoming white light (0.4 W cm−2), the thermal energy generated can be amplified 12‐fold via multilayers. The multilayer system extends another dimension in solar harvesting and paves a new path to energy generation for the energy‐neutral system.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Advanced Sustainable Systems
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Photovoltaic solar cells have been extensively used for various applications and are considered one of the most efficient green energy sources. However, their 2D surface area solar harvesting has limitations, and there is an increasing need to explore the possibility of multiple layer solar harvest for enhanced energy density. To address this, we have developed spectral-selective transparent thin films based on porphyrin and iron oxide compounds that allow solar light to penetrate multiple layers, significantly increasing solar harvesting surface area and energy density. These thin films are designed as photovoltaic (PV) and photothermal (PT) panels that can convert photons into either electricity or thermal energy for various green energy applications, such as smart building skins and solar desalination. The advantages of this 3D solar harvesting system include enlarged solar light collecting surface area and increased energy density. The multilayer system transforms the current 2D to 3D solar harvesting, enabling efficient energy generation. This review discusses recent developments in the synthesis and characterization of PV and PT transparent thin films for solar harvesting and energy generation using multilayers. Major applications of the 3D solar harvesting system are reviewed, including thermal energy generation, multilayered DSSC PV system, and solar desalination. Some preliminary data on transparent multilayer DSSC PVs are presented.more » « less
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