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Luminescent Solar Concentrators

The first generation of LSC were flat, transparent plates impregnated with luminescent materials which absorb solar radiation and convert it to narrow-band luminescence, which is then internally reflected within the plate to the edges of the LSC. The concentrated luminescence can then either be coupled to a photovoltaic (PV) device, or used directly as a source of 'cool' indoor lighting. For PV applications, a principal advantage of LSC is that they collect large areas of solar radiation per unit area of costly PV material, and, therefore, are potentially more cost-effective than traditional solar panels. For indoor lighting applications, LSC bypass the inefficient conversion of solar energy to electrical energy, and then back to light. Using solar panels to power fluorescent lighting, for example, yields only 2-3% overall conversion efficiency. The failure of LSC to achieve broad application in PV and lighting has been due primarily to the lack of suitable phosphors for the purpose, and to unacceptable optical losses due to scatter and absorbance by the activating luminescent materials embedded in the plates. However, the revolution in nanomaterials and nano-characterization, and the rapidly emerging field of plasmonics and metal-enhanced fluorescence techniques open the door to significant new opportunities in LSC development. Schematic LSC

 

Schematic diagram of Luminescent Solar Concentrator (LSC) based on metal -surface-enhancement of luminescence from nanocrystalline inorganic phosphors.