The £6.3million PV-21 programme will focus on making thin-film light absorbing cells for solar panels from sustainable and affordable materials.
The four-year project, which begins in April (2008), is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under the SUPERGEN initiative.
Eight UK universities, led by Durham and including Bangor, Bath, Cranfield, Edinburgh, Imperial College London, Northumbria and Southampton, are involved in the project.
They will work together with nine industrial partners towards a “medium to long-term goal” of making solar energy more competitive and sustainable, particularly in light of the recent rise in fossil fuel prices.
At present solar cells – used to convert light energy into electricity - are made from key components such as the rare and expensive metal indium which costs approximately £320 ($660) per kilogram.
To cut costs in solar cell production the research team will work to reduce the thickness of the cells.
Making a solar semiconductor thinner by one millionth of a metre in solar cells generating one gigawatt of power could save 50 tonnes of material.
Researchers will also experiment with sustainable low-cost materials which could be used in the manufacturing of solar cells and on the use of nanotechnology and dyes on ultra-thin silicon to capture increased amounts of energy from the sun’s rays.
Principal investigator Professor Ken Durose, in the Department of Physics, at Durham University, said: “With the rapid increase in fossil fuel prices and the recent Government announcement about investment in nuclear power it is even more important that we look at long-term future energy generation from solar power.
“At present you would need tens of tonnes of very rare and expensive materials for large scale production of solar cells to produce sizeable amounts of power.
“Some of the materials currently used may not be sustainable in 20 years time which is why we have to conduct research into alternative materials that are cheaper to buy and more sustainable.
“We are also leading the way in making ultra-thin solar cells that need less material.
“Our medium to long-term goal is to make a major contribution to achieving competitive photovoltaic solar energy, which we hope will lead to an uptake in the use of solar power.”
The latest funding follows an initial four-year research project by PV-21 focusing on the development of thin-layer PV cells using compound semiconductors based on the cadmium telluride and chalcopyrite systems.
This work will form the basis for testing new ideas over the next four years.
Chris Pywell, Head of Strategic Economic Change at regional development agency One NorthEast, said: “This project will add substantially to the position of North East England which is already at the forefront of photovoltaic energy research.
“This leading position presents a great opportunity to the region as the world addresses climate change. As well as the strengths of Durham and Northumbria universities that are demonstrated by this success, we have the PV development facilities at NaREC, the new PETEC facilities at NETPark, and great businesses such as ROMAG.
“The Agency, Durham University and our other partners are committed to building on this new project and our many other successes to ensure the region leads the UK in renewable energy.”
Leighton Kitson | alfa
Stretchable biofuel cells extract energy from sweat to power wearable devices
22.08.2017 | University of California - San Diego
Laser sensor LAH-G1 - optical distance sensors with measurement value display
15.08.2017 | WayCon Positionsmesstechnik GmbH
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine
22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.08.2017 | Life Sciences