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Transmissive Diffractive Optical Element Solar ConcentratorsSolar-thermal-radiation concentrators in the form of transmissive diffractive optical elements (DOEs) have been proposed as alternatives to mirror-type solar concentrators now in use. In comparison with functionally equivalent mirror-type solar concentrators, the transmissive, diffractive solar concentrators would weigh and cost less, and would be subject to relaxed mechanical tolerances. A DOE concentrator would be made from a thin, flat disk or membrane of a transmissive material having a suitable index of refraction. By virtue of its thinness, the DOE concentrator would have an areal mass density significantly less than that of a functionally equivalent conventional mirror. The DOE concentrator would have a relatively wide aperture--characterized by a focal-length/aperture-diameter ratio ('f number') on the order of 1. A kinoform (a surface-relief phase hologram) of high diffractive order would be microfabricated onto one face of the disk. The kinoform (see figure) would be designed to both diffract and refract incident solar radiation onto a desired focal region, without concern for forming an image of the Sun. The high diffractive order of this kinoform (in contradistinction to the low diffractive orders of some other kinoforms) would be necessary to obtain the desired f number of 1, which, in turn, would be necessary for obtaining a desired concentration ratio of 2,500 or greater. The design process of optimizing the concentration ratio of a proposed DOE solar concentrator includes computing convolutions of the optical bandwidth of the Sun with the optical transmission of the diffractive medium. Because, as in the cases of other non-imaging, light-concentrating optics, image quality is not a design requirement, the process also includes trading image quality against concentration ratio. A baseline design for one example calls for an aperture diameter of 1 m. This baseline design would be scalable to a diameter as large as 10 m, or to a smaller diameter for a laboratory test article. Initial calculations have indicated that the characteristics of the test article would be readily scalable to a full-size unit.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Document Type
Other - NASA Tech Brief
Baron, Richard
(California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Moynihan, Philip
(California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Price, Douglas
(California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
September 1, 2008
Publication Information
Publication: NASA Tech Briefs, September 2008
Subject Category
Energy Production And Conversion
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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