Group Leaders:

Silicon based photovoltaics (PVs) have been remarkably successful and the industry is growing at between 40 to 70% per annum. However, global energy generation from solar power amounts to less than 0.1 % of the total energy used. Conventional PV technology will certainly contribute this century, but to generate a significant fraction of our global power from solar energy, a radically new disruptive technology is required.

Our research is primarily focused on developing the physics and technology being low cost photovoltaic concepts. The materials we use include carbon-based organic semiconductors, solution processable ceramics and inorganic semiconductors which have emerged over the last decade as promising alternatives to expensive inorganic semiconductor technologies. One advantage of this new material family is that they can be processed easily from solution, e.g. using spin-coating, doctor-blade coating and higher speed methods such a Gravure Printing. As a result, devices such as solar cells, light-emitting displays, and transistors should be manufacturable at very low cost. To understand the scale of the solar energy challenge, if we want to generate 10 TWp (current global demand is 15 TWp) in 10 years time with a solar cell which is 10% efficient at converting sun light to electrical energy we need to fabricate PV arrays of 100 km2 a day. This is actually similar to the rate at which we are building tarmac roads.

The photovoltaic concepts we currently work on are Dye-Sesitized Solar Cells, semiconducting polymer / metal oxide photovoltaics and all polymer photovoltaic diodes. We are also actively developing organic and molecularly sensitized photodetectors and phototransistors and polymer/oxide light emitting diodes. We strive to both enhance absolute performance whilst also improving our understanding of the fundamental processes.