Programmes Solar Energy
The Programme on Solar Energy was established with Oxford Martin School funding in 2010 and the grant from the School ended in 2015. The programme's directors are Professor Henry Snaith and Professor Alain Goriely, who remain involved with the School as Oxford Martin Senior Fellows.
With increasing industrialisation and a growing population, energy demands will continue to grow. Faced with adverse climate change, the search for a viable source of renewable energy is ongoing. Solar energy is one of the most promising sources. At present, the photovoltaic market is dominated by solar cells made of crystalline silicon. This team is looking at a more efficient and cost-effective photovoltaic power solution.
To transform the profile of solar power and energy generation through the commercialisation of the perovskite solar cell.
In 2013 Professor Henry Snaith’s group demonstrated that perovskite has remarkable photovoltaic properties. The components are cheap and abundant, but perovskite proved a difficult material to work with. A new approach brought together mathematical modelling and physical experiments to create perovskite photovoltaic cells.
The joint team found the optimum thickness for exactly the right degree of transparency for perovskite film, as well as the correct temperature at which to heat and harden the film, and the optimum duration of heating. Further research identified the key mechanisms responsible for the electronic properties of perovskites and helped identify new materials that are likely to make good semiconductors.
The result was the creation of thin-film perovskite solar cells, which can be printed directly onto solar cells or glass, and which improves voltage and efficiency of solar cells.
In March 2015, the commercial spin-off, Oxford Photovoltaics, secured £8m to accelerate full-scale production and deployment.
This approach could provide a low cost, highly efficient alternative to silicon solar cells, which can be incorporated into windows. Once integrated into the glazing units of a building, the technology is capable of providing a significant percentage of the building’s electrical energy requirements directly from sunlight.