Durham is widely regarded as a world-leader in photovoltaic (PV) research. We are working on the key fundamental science that underpins a range of PV device technologies from new types of photovoltaic material to make PV devices cheaper right through to their design, manufacturing and successful deployment, including recycling.
Having low cost PV technologies will ensure that solar makes a full contribution to the World's energy needs, particularly in developing economies where access to the grid is challenging.
Photovoltaic devices (or PV) are structures that convert solar radiation directly into electricity. Harvesting the energy of the sun is one of the key ways in which we can address the challenges of supplying sufficient energy for future generations.
The earth receives sufficient energy in about one hour to meet the entire energy demands of the planet for one year; there is an abundance of solar energy available.
PV devices consist of thin layers of electronic materials which absorb the energy from the sun and convert this into an electrical current. These PV materials can be inorganic, organic or a hybrid version. The next generation of PV devices will be based on materials that are more abundant and that can be produced more cheaply with less environmental impact. Next generation PV technology will also have a much lower energy payback time.
Solar energy research at Durham University is a shining example of inter-disciplinary collaboration with Engineers, Physicists, Chemists, modellers and experimentalists working together to fabricate increasingly more efficient photovoltaic devices and working with Geographers, Economists and Anthropologists to explore the social and economic dynamics of solar power. This ensures we understand the complex social issues which arise when deploying new technologies. PV research at Durham is focused on delivering real success in solar energy.
Key expertise areas:
A broad range of PV device technologies: inorganic, organic, hybrid organic-inorganic structures
Developing new sustainable materials for low cost, large area devices for terawatt scale electricity generation
Advanced spectroscopic studies of quantum and novel behaviour in electronic materials and devices
Modelling of physical processes underpinning photovoltaic action
Developing novel approaches: nanostructures and nanoparticle inks
Underpinning systems required to successfully deploy PV.
Grid integration of solar energy
Statistical modelling of the output for system integration of solar power
Small scale integration of solar power in houses and communities
Theoretical modelling of device deployment, systems and integration into society
Social impacts and implications of solar energy uptake globally