Spectrally selective AlXOY/Pt/AlXOY solar absorber coatings for high temprature solar-thermal applications
The limited supply of fossil hydrocarbon resources and the negative impact of CO2 emission on the global environment dictate the increasing usage of renewable energy sources. Concentrating solar power (CSP) systems are the most likely candidate for providing the majority of the renewable energy. For efficient photo-thermal conversion, these systems require spectrally selective solar absorber surfaces with high solar absorbance in the solar spectrum region and low thermal emittance in the infrared region. In this thesis, a spectrally selective AlxOy/Pt/AlxOy multilayer solar absorber was designed and deposited onto copper substrate using electron beam evaporation at room temperature. The employment of ellipsometric measurements and optical simulation was proposed as an effective method to optimize and deposit the multilayer solar absorber coatings. The optical constants measured using spectroscopic ellipsometry, showed that both AlxOy layers, which used in the coatings, were dielectric in nature and the Pt layer was semi-transparent. The optimized multilayer coatings exhibited high solar absorptance ~ 0.94±0.01 and low thermal emittance ~ 0.06 ± 0.01 at 82oC.The structural and optical properties of the coatings were investigated. It was found that the stratification of the coatings consists of a semitransparent middle Pt layer sandwiched between two layers of AlxOy. The top and bottom AlxOy layers were nonstoichiometric with no crystalline phases present. The Pt layer is in the fcc crystalline phase with a broad size distribution and spheroidal shape in and between the rims of AlxOy. The surface roughness of the stack was found to be comparable to the inter-particle distance. To study the thermal stability of the multilayer solar absorber coatings, the samples were annealed at different temperatures for different duration in air. The results showed changes in morphology, structure, composition, and optical properties depend on both temperature and duration of annealing. The XRD pattern showed that the intensity of Pt decreased with increasing annealing temperature and therefore, disappeared at high temperature. With increasing annealing temperature, an increase in the size of Pt particles was observed from SEM. The AlxOy/Pt/AlxOy multilayer solar absorber coatings deposited onto Cu substrate were found to be thermally stable up to 500oC in air for 2 h with good spectral selectivity of 0.951/0.09. At 600oC and 700oC, the spectral selectivity decreased to 0.92/0.10 and 0.846/0.11 respectively, which is attributed to the diffusion of Cu and formation of CuO and Cu2O phases. Long term thermal stability study showed that the coatings were thermally stable in air up to 450oC for 24 h. To elucidate the degradation mechanism beyond 500oC, HI-ERDA has been used to study depth-dependent atomic concentration profiles. These measurements revealed outward diffusion of the copper substrate towards the surface and therefore, the decrease in the constituents of the coating. Hence, to prevent copper from diffusing towards the coatings, a thin Tantalum (Ta) layer was deposited between the base AlxOy layer and the copper substrate.The effect of a thin Ta layer on the thermal stability of AlxOy/Pt/AlxOy multilayer solar absorber coatings was investigated. The Cu/Ta/AlxOy/Pt/AlxOy multilayer solar absorber coatings were found to be thermally stable up to 700oC in air for 2 h with good spectral selectivity of 0.937/0.10. At 800oC, the spectral selectivity decreased to 0.870/0.12, which is attributed to the diffusion of Cu and formation of CuO phase. The formation of CuO phase was confirmed by XRD, EDS and Raman spectroscopy. Long term thermal stability study showed that the coatings were thermally stable in air up to 550oC for 24 h. Therefore, the Cu/Ta/AlxOy/Pt/AlxOy spectrally selective solar absorber coatings can be used for high temperature solar-thermal applications.