Do you know that the amount of energy we receive from solar irradiation in Australia is 74,000 times more than what we consume as a nation?! The research group’s mission is to harness the sun for energy generation in the most effective way.
New and emerging materials for next generation solar cells
Many recent scientific breakthroughs have been associated with the discovery of new materials with tailored properties. Metal halide perovskites is a great example in the field of photovoltaics. Recently, two-dimensional and layered metal halide perovskites have become the “new favourite” because of the larger range of material properties allowable compared to the three-dimensional counterparts increasing functionality, improving stability and expanding the choice of metal allowable with reduced toxicity. In this project, this new class of materials will be synthesised for the demonstration of photovoltaic and optoelectronic devices. In addition, material properties that affect carrier transports and distribution of defects in these new perovskite materials will be measured and visualised using various types of advanced spectroscopy and imaging techniques with the aim of optimising device performance.
Building integrated photovoltaics
The multi-billion worldwide building-integrated-photovoltaics (BIPV) market is predicted to rise by 20% annually in the next 5 years. There is a vast amount of solar energy resource on the facades of high rise buildings in modern cities which is currently not utilised. The value of a solar window does not only depend on the energy generation but also on its appearance such as colour and transparency and thermal performance. Thin-film photovoltaic technologies as opposed to the incumbent wafer-based technology provide extra dimensions for these functionalities. Advanced concepts using interference effects, “invisible” cells, down- and up-shifting, bifacial and tandem cell structures, and electro-, thermal- or photo-switching will be explored for optical and thermal management taking diffuse light and angle-dependencies into consideration. Another part of this project deals with the integration of solar into thermal insulating glazing. Low temperature hermetic glass bonding technique incorporating electrical feedthroughs will be developed which will be compatible with perovskite solar cells taking advantage of the protection provided by the glazing to the solar cells. This aspect of the project will seek to understand the science of bonding involving material and interface studies.
Commercial space market is expected to grow rapidly in the next decade launching tens of thousands of satellites. Photovoltaics will be the key to powering space hardware. Therefore, there will be a huge market for commercial space photovoltaics requiring approximately one million square meters of solar panels in the next decade. There is an incentive to develop new low-cost, light weight, high-performance photovoltaics technologies. Metal halide perovskite multi-junction cell is a promising approach due to its radiation hardness and rapid improvement in power conversion efficiency. This project conducts research on new generations of perovskite cell technology for space that can withstand environmental conditions in space including launch shock, hard vacuum, thermal cycles, high ultraviolet radiation, atomic oxygen, electron and proton radiation, and plasma bombardment. Opportunities exist for students interested in integrating our perovskite solar cells onto the CUAVA satellite (CUAVA = ARC training centre for CubeSats, UAVs and their applications).
Solar driven clean hydrogen economy
Hydrogen can be used as a clean fuel or an energy carrier in various forms replacing carbon-containing fuels thereby reducing carbon dioxide emission. Increasing global interest in promoting the use of zero-emission hydrogen and its trade via import or export has caused a resurgence of hydrogen economy. Solar driven carbon-free production of hydrogen is most desirable. This project will look at the science of lowering the barrier for the creation of hydrogen from water by low voltage electrolysis. We will also look at alternative methods of generating hydrogen other than water splitting by solar with the aim of generating high value products and low-cost operation. Students will be able to conduct both experimental work and process analysis to develop new hydrogen production process.
The projects are suitable for Physics, Chemistry and Engineering students interested in industry relevant science for a translatable outcome. Undergraduate students can participate via the Physics Special Studies Program (SSP), Physics Interdisciplinary Special Projects (ISP), Science Dalyell Individual Research Project, and Physics and Chemistry Honours Program. Capstone project is available for the Master of Sustainability. We actively recruit talented Masters and PhD students and Postdoctoral joining our group.
Phone: +612 8627 8916
Location: Sydney Nanoscience Hub | The University of Sydney | NSW | 2006