An optical approach to next generation refrigeration

Solutions developed

The EU-funded OPTAGON project explores a revolutionary optical approach to refrigeration based on solar cell materials and LEDs. It will harness the ability of LEDs to cool themselves in the process of emitting photons known as electroluminescent cooling, ideally providing access to cooling performance enabling even cryogenic applications.

Main results

OPTAGON aims to demonstrate and harness the fundamental phenomenon of electroluminescent cooling to develop the first thermophotonic coolers. This opens an entirely new way to tackle the challenges of efficient solid-state cooling, enabling cooling solutions all the way from cryogenic coolers to domestic heat pumps. In a multidisciplinary cross-over approach we combine thin-film solar cell materials and light emitting diode structures with recently developed extremely efficient light extraction methods and emerging nanoengineering concepts using optical near-field effects to demonstrate the extraordinary prospects of thermophotonics. This creates a fundamental and cutting-edge line of research, development, and innovation targeting a solid-state cooling revolution with a scientific underpinning and addressing the urgent industrial needs for efficient cryogenic solid -state cooling. This project will combine synergies in theory, experiment and technology-development covering different fields from materials to photonics.