Researchers at the University of Southampton (UK) won an Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Innovation Award for their work simulating black silicon nanostructures for photovoltaic applications.
Members of the Sustainable Electronic Technologies (SET) research group scooped first prize in the Model Based Engineering category in a ceremony in central London on Wednesday 13th November.
The team, led by Dr Stuart Boden, with PhD student Jack Tyson and Senior Research Fellow Dr Tasmiat Rahman, is part of an investigation supported by the Black Silicon Photovoltaics grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
“We are proud that our work has been recognised by the IET through this prestigious award”, Stuart said. “It was an honour to be shortlisted and we were absolutely thrilled to win first prize in our category; I’d like to thank my team for their excellent efforts.”
The IET Innovation Awards recognise and celebrate the very best new innovations across the breadth of science, engineering and technology. At the ceremony, which was hosted by TV presenter and comedian Alex Brooker, top engineers from industry and academia gathered to celebrate the success of the shortlisted candidates in each category.
The judges praised the innovative approach taken by the Southampton team in using a finite element method together with randomisation algorithms to more accurately predict the spectral distribution of light reflected from nanoscale-textured silicon surfaces. Accurate modelling is essential to improving materials and the research’s applied mathematics will directly enable improvements in solar cell efficiency.
Photovoltaics are the fastest growing renewable energy technology and are expected to account for 30% of global power generation capacity in the coming decades. Silicon photovoltaics account for more than 90% of the market, where significant technological improvements can ensure further price reductions and increased deployment.
The £950,000 Black Silicon Photovoltaics research project has brought together project teams in Southampton and Oxford to draw on close collaborations with institutes at Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Germany, and the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia. The methods developed as part of the project are being applied to the leading solar cell technologies based on mono- (c-Si) and multi-crystalline silicon (mc-Si).