Photovoltatronics: Intelligent PV-based devices for energy and information applications

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29 Citations (Scopus)
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At present, electrification and digitalization are two significant trends in the energy sector. Large-scale introduction of variable renewable energy sources, energy storage and power-electronics components, all based on direct current (DC), is fundamentally changing the electrical energy system of today that is based on alternating current (AC). This trend leads to a complex hybrid AC/DC power system with the extensive deployment of information and communication technologies (ICT) to keep the system stable and reliable. Photovoltaics (PV) is a technology that will play an essential role in local generation of clean electricity in expanding urban areas. To take full advantage of PV in the urban environment, PV technology must become intelligent. In this article, we identify, describe, and label a new research field that deals with intelligent PV and its application in components with multiple functionalities. We denote this field photovoltatronics. We review photovoltatronics research areas and introduce new directions for each area. Photovoltatronics brings together disciplines of energy and informatics. Since photons and electrons are carriers of both energy and information, photovoltatronics is the field that designs and delivers autonomous devices for electricity generation and information communication. It introduces a pathway from harvesting energy of photons (h?) to creating bits of information (01) through the energy of photo-generated electrons (eV). We show that ~10 keV energy is at least needed for transceiving one bit of information in the energy-information chain of the photovoltatronics, while the ultimate efficiency of the chain can reach up to 33.4%. We show that the number of publications related to photovoltatronics is exponentially increasing and the publication rate of combined research areas has been doubled in the present decade and reached 3.4% as a clear sign of its emergence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-126
Number of pages21
JournalEnergy & Environmental Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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