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Spectral selectivity of high-temperature solar absorbers

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Abstract

Numerical calculations of the thermal emissivity TH and normal incidence solar absorptivity αs of model spectrally selective solar absorbers at high temperatures are reported. The model absorbers consist of Drude metal substrates coated with layers that are successively made better and better approximations to a selective solar absorber. We initially calculate the emissivity of the bare metal substrates THM as a function of temperature. We then coat the metal substrate with a homogeneous dielectric layer of index nL and find that TH of the coated metal increases monotonically with nL from THM at that temperature. The dielectric layer is then replaced by a selectively absorbing layer with the optimum physically realizable spectral absorptivity, and maximum values of αs and minimum values of TH are calculated as functions of operating temperature and layer thickness. Finally, we replace the homogeneous selective layer with one having a complex refractive index graded linearly through the thickness of the film. It is found that, compared with homogeneous films of the same thickness, the graded films typically have a higher αs and a lower TH. For films thick enough to be useful absorber surfaces, however, the improvements in αs and TH are small.

© 1980 Optical Society of America

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