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Reactive self-tracking solar concentrators: concept, design, and initial materials characterization

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Abstract

Étendue limits angular acceptance of high-concentration photovoltaic systems and imposes precise two-axis mechanical tracking. We show how a planar micro-optic solar concentrator incorporating a waveguide cladding with a nonlinear optical response to sunlight can reduce mechanical tracking requirements. Optical system designs quantify the required response: a large, slow, and localized increase in index of refraction. We describe one candidate materials system: a suspension of high-index particles in a low-index fluid combined with a localized space-charge field to increase particle density and average index. Preliminary experiments demonstrate an index change of aqueous polystyrene nanoparticles in response to a low voltage signal and imply larger responses with optimized nanofluidic materials.

©2012 Optical Society of America

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