Ben Wood

Chemical Engineering Technician and Department Radiation Officer, PhD student

Research Overview

Improving light harvesting in silicon through alkyl and chromophore direct attachment

The development of photovoltaics (PV) has been spurred by the drive for the production for electrical energy from clean, or low carbon, technologies.

Silicon cells make up 90% of the world’s solar cell production. Due to their poor absorption of sunlight, silicon cells are typically around 200-300 µm thick. These cells are expensive as they require a high grade of purity (parts per billion) and have a high-energy cost to manufacture.

To counteract this problem, we propose a new type of solar cell based on metallic-organic complexes and an ultra-thin silicon substrate in order to reduce the thickness of silicon cells by two orders of magnitude.

However, the fabrication of these metal complexes and the coating of these have an inherent energy cost, and therefore carbon footprint.

This project evaluates the potential gains of improved efficiency (light harvesting) in silicon-based solar cells vs. the “cost” in terms (i) of the additional embodied energy of the coating and (ii) sustainability of the materials employed.