Researchers at Swansea University, Imperial College London, and the University of Oxford have launched a project to drive next-generation solar technology into new and exciting applications. The research team has been awarded a £6 million EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) programme grant to advance perovskite (PV) cells into applications that current solar technologies cannot accommodate.
Advancing Next-gen Applications
Organic and PV solar cells have been known to offer several advantages over current solar technologies, such as their being highly flexible, lightweight, and cheap to produce. They can also be printed directly onto products and applications while they are being manufactured.
According to the EPSRC, such properties as the above make perovskite solar cells highly suitable for 5G applications in which an ultra-lightweight power source will be required for next-gen applications: consider, for instance, high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles, or the powering of sensors and computing devices in IoT applications. The EPSRC also says that the PV cells could be incorporated into the structures of zero-carbon buildings and vehicles to generate power.
A close-up of a flexible solar module developed at Swansea University. The technology can be printed directly onto a flexible base, making it cheaper to manufacture and suitable for more applications than traditional solar cells. Image Credit: Swansea University.
“This exciting, multi-disciplinary project represents a step-change in the application of solar power and will help the UK to cut emissions and develop a climate-resilient, zero-carbon economy,” said Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, EPSRC’s executive chair.
A Testament to the UK’s Strength
The EPSRC’s programme grant will help the joint UK university research team to deliver the core science and engineering needed to underpin the development of their solar technologies. It will also help the team develop both low-cost manufacturing methods for production at scale, as well as prototypes to show how they can provide solar power in new and next-gen applications.
Called Application Targeted and Integrated Photovoltaics, the programme will be led by Swansea University’s SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, in partnership with the university’s new Centre for Integrative Semiconductor Materials, the Centre for Processable Electronics at Imperial College London, and the Department of Physics at the University of Oxford.
“The fact that the EPSRC has chosen to award this programme grant is testament both to the expertise of our team and to the UK’s strength in this field. With these three leading centres working together, we will be able to advance the next generation of solar technologies from the lab to the real world more quickly, for the benefit of the UK and the rest of the world,” said Professor James Durrant of SPECIFIC, the project’s leader.