Quantitative experimental assessment of hot carrier-enhanced solar cells at room temperature

  • Nature Energyvolume 3pages236242 (2018)
  • doi:10.1038/s41560-018-0106-3
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In common photovoltaic devices, the part of the incident energy above the absorption threshold quickly ends up as heat, which limits their maximum achievable efficiency to far below the thermodynamic limit for solar energy conversion. Conversely, the conversion of the excess kinetic energy of the photogenerated carriers into additional free energy would be sufficient to approach the thermodynamic limit. This is the principle of hot carrier devices. Unfortunately, such device operation in conditions relevant for utilization has never been evidenced. Here, we show that the quantitative thermodynamic study of the hot carrier population, with luminance measurements, allows us to discuss the hot carrier contribution to the solar cell performance. We demonstrate that the voltage and current can be enhanced in a semiconductor heterostructure due to the presence of the hot carrier population in a single InGaAsP quantum well at room temperature. These experimental results substantiate the potential of increasing photovoltaic performances in the hot carrier regime.

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This work was carried out in the framework of a project of the IPVF (Institut Photovoltaïque d’Île-de-France). This project has been supported by the French Government in the framework of the programme of investment for the future (Programme d’Investissement d’Avenir) ANR-IEED-002-0. The authors acknowledge J. Even for the energy band structure simulation, T. Batté and N. Chevalier for technical assistance on sample and device fabrication, and P. Schultz and J. Connolly for carefully reading the manuscript.

Author contributions

J.-F.G. and L.L. planned the study; D.-T.N. acquired the data; D.-T.N., L.L. and F.G. contributed to data treatment; S.B.-R., A.L.-C. and O.D. designed and fabricated the samples; D.-T.N., L.L. and J.-F.G. contributed to data analysis and modelling and wrote the paper.

Author information


  1. Institut Photovoltaique d’Ile de France (IPVF), Palaiseau, France

    • Dac-Trung Nguyen
    • , Laurent Lombez
    • , François Gibelli
    •  & Jean-François Guillemoles
  2. CNRS-Institut Photovoltaique d’Ile de France (IPVF), UMR 9006, Palaiseau, France

    • Laurent Lombez
    • , François Gibelli
    •  & Jean-François Guillemoles
  3. Univ Rennes, INSA Rennes, CNRS, Institut FOTON – UMR 6082, Rennes, France

    • Soline Boyer-Richard
    • , Alain Le Corre
    •  & Olivier Durand


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Laurent Lombez.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Notes 1–9, Supplementary Figures 1–11, Supplementary Table 1 and Supplementary References.