AlGaAs Photovoltaics for Indoor Energy Harvesting in mm-Scale Wireless Sensor Nodes

Indoor photovoltaic energy harvesting is a promising candidate to power millimeter (mm)-scale systems. The theoretical efficiency and electrical performance of photovoltaics under typical indoor lighting conditions are analyzed. Commercial crystalline Si and fabricated GaAs and Al0.2Ga0.8As photovoltaic cells were experimentally measured under simulated AM 1.5 solar irradiation and indoor illumination conditions using a white phosphor light-emitting diode to study the effects of input spectra and illuminance on performance.

The Al0.2Ga0.8As cells demonstrated the highest performance with a power conversion efficiency of 21%, with open-circuit voltages >0.65 V under low lighting conditions. The GaAs and Al0.2Ga0.8As cells each provide a power density of ~100 nW/mm2 or more at 250 lx, sufficient for the perpetual operation of present-day low-power mm-scale wireless sensor nodes.