Standard solar cells heat up under sunlight. The resulting increased temperature of the solar cell has adverse consequences on both its efficiency and its reliability. We introduce a general approach to radiatively lower the operating temperature of a solar cell through sky access, while maintaining its solar absorption. We first present an ideal scheme for the radiative cooling of solar cells. For an example case of a bare crystalline silicon solar cell, we show that the ideal scheme can passively lower its operating temperature by 18.3 K. We then demonstrate a microphotonic design based on real material properties that approaches the performance of the ideal scheme. We also show that the radiative cooling effect is substantial, even in the presence of significant convection and conduction and parasitic solar absorption in the cooling layer, provided that we design the cooling layer to be sufficiently thin.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics