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
Optical Design and Fabrication
Original Manuscript: September 28, 2011
Manuscript Accepted: November 1, 2011
Published: March 6, 2012
Katherine A. Baker, Jason H. Karp, Eric J. Tremblay, Justin M. Hallas, and Joseph E. Ford, "Reactive self-tracking solar concentrators: concept, design, and initial materials characterization," Appl. Opt. 51, 1086-1094 (2012)