New Materials and Devices for Photovoltaic Applications

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Chemistry


With the advent of global warming, rapidly increasing demand for energy, and concerns over the security of supply of traditional carbon based fuels the requirement for alternative, sustainable energy sources is recognised throughout the world. Photovoltaics (PVs) harvest electrical energy directly from sunlight, delivering power at the point of use and are potentially a major component of the long term solution to this growing challenge. The current market is dominated by first generation Si devices which offer good power conversion efficiencies and operational lifetimes, but remain too expensive for major deployment. Second generation thin film technologies based on materials such as cadmium telluride and copper indium gallium diselenide are also showing significant promise, however the lower device efficiencies and relatively high processing costs means that market penetration remains low. Consequently, there is a rapidly growing worldwide focus on the development of new third generation PV technologies which offer the prospect of significantly improved performance and/or low cost manufacture, thus helping to accelerate commercial exploitation and large-scale deployment. New PV technologies will require innovations in materials, concepts and devices and the unique and flexible nature of Platform Grant funding will help the Warwick group tackle this important strategic challenge.

Planned Impact

The commercial private sector will benefit from a very strong industrial collaboration programme which will generate: (i) knowledge on new PV materials and device concepts; (ii) joint intellectual property created with opportunity for licensing and exploitation; (iii) formation of new spin-out companies created in the West Midlands region, building on the Advantage West Midlands investment in the Qunatum Technology Partnerhsip (QTP) and the Birmingham Science City initiative; (v) the training of highly skilled researchers with industrial experience in PV research; (vi) the creation of new jobs in the West Midlands region as a result of the QTP programmes in PV. The public sector will benefit from the group's regular engagement with policy groups and government bodies to help shape UK policy, both nationally and regionally, in energy technology and the implications of climate change. The general public will benefit from: (i) the development of new PV technologies as a consequence of innovative research in new materials and device concepts; (ii) much greater deployment of PVs in domestic and commercial environments thus helping the UK make the essential transition to a low carbon society; (iii) the promotion of solar cell research to the general public through workshops, exhibitions, lectures and promotional materials including our website; (iiv) the promotion of the science and technology of solar cells and renewable energy in general to children and teachers in schools throughout the Midlands region; (v) an increased awareness by the general public of the importance of solar cells, renewable energy technologies and the implications of climate change; (vi) an increased number of applications from local school children to study sciences and engineering at universities; and (vii) a greater awareness of the group's researchers of the importance of communicating the excitement of science and technology to the general public, especially school children.


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