Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > New Professor forecasts exciting times for solar cell research

Abstract:
New ECS Professor Darren Bagnall manages an energetic research group within the Nano Group that is investigating new types of solar cell based on nanotechnology.

New Professor forecasts exciting times for solar cell research

UK | Posted on September 4th, 2008

He is one of a number of staff in the School of Electronics and Computer Science who will be moving this month into the new Mountbatten Building, a £55M development for leading-edge research in nanotechnology and optoelectronics.

This is an incredibly exciting time for us', he says. ‘Over the last few years there has been a massive increase in funding for research into renewable energy. Even with currently available technology photovoltaics will probably provide 50 per cent of the world's energy in around 40 years time, but what we actually want is to use nanotechnology so that solar cells are efficient and reliable, and yet so cheap that they can be afforded by the tens of thousands of villages around the world that currently do not have electricity.'

Some of Darren's most eye-catching work includes the use of nanostructures that copy the complex patterns that produce extreme colour effects on moth-eyes and butterfly wings. He is also exploring the use of metallic nanoparticles - plasmonics - that can help to trap light within thin semiconductor layers in a solar cell.

Growing up in Stoke-on-Trent, Darren was a keen science student from an early age. His interest in electronics was probably triggered when his Dad, who was in the nightclub business, brought home a broken pinball machine. ‘It was no use to anyone', says Darren, ‘but provided a whole load of sensors, switches and actuators that my brother and I used to build some crazy systems.' The interest that developed from this led Darren to do a degree in electronics at Salford University, where he became interested in semiconductor devices and went on to do a PhD in Photovoltaics.

After his PhD, Darren went to Strathclyde University to develop blue laser diodes. Although they could not be manufactured in the 80s, blue laser diodes were known to be important requirements particularly for what has become known as Blu Ray technology. At Strathclyde Darren developed mono-layer quantum well lasers based on ZnCdSe, and was subsequently offered a research fellowship in Japan at the prestigious Institute of Materials Research of Tohoku University. During this time he made one of his most notable research contributions in producing the first zinc oxide laser. ‘This paper has helped kick-start a whole new research front and our paper now has over 1000 citations,' he says.

After spending three years in Japan, Darren wanted to return to the UK and he was delighted when he was appointed to a lectureship at ECS. ‘I found the infrastructure and the cleanrooms amazing', he said. ‘I was also really struck by the tremendous ambition and energy in ECS.'

Since arriving in Southampton Darren has had the opportunity to use his experience in optoelectronics and apply it to working with silicon, a material that can be made to interact with light only with extreme ingenuity: ‘What we can do is create nanoscale features that are much smaller than the wavelength of light and thereby trick light into doing things it wouldn't normally do.'

For example, Darren has shown that if tens of thousands of nanoscale swastikas are arranged on a square millimetre, he can ‘twist' light in accordance with the rotation of the swastikas and thereby create artificial ‘metamaterials' that control polarization. It is this concept of the metamaterials and their application to photovoltaics that drives his current research.

Darren's commitment and optimism carried him through the fire which destroyed £50M worth of ECS research three years ago. Although each of his team lost at least a year's work, he feels the episode has now given them a unique opportunity.

‘We are now in a position where we have a great deal of knowledge and yet have the chance to redesign our experiments right from the very beginning,' he said. ‘Although this will take us some time, I expect it to yield some very exciting results.'

Darren's first aim in the new facility will be to make the first 20 per cent efficient solar cell based on thin film silicon - ‘It won't be easy', he says, ‘but we think we know the way to do it.'

Meanwhile, Darren does not confine all of his energy to the University. He is also something of a fitness fanatic. In the past he has raced triathlons, marathons and fell races at a high level, and still holds ambitions to complete an Ironman triathlon and to swim Loch Lomond.

Most serious of all he wants to get back into his old habit of beating Dr Neil Broderick on their regular runs around the New Forest. ‘It's such an amazing place and we're very lucky to have it on our doorstep,' he says. Of course, now I tend to find it's at its best when we're running towards the pub! And especially when Australia hasn't managed to keep up.'

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton
SO17 1BJ
United Kingdom
+44 (0)23 8059 6000

Copyright © University of Southampton

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Smallest possible diamonds form ultra-thin nanothreads: Diamond nanothreads are likely to have extraordinary properties, including strength and stiffness greater than that of today's strongest nanotubes and polymers September 22nd, 2014

Engineers show light can play seesaw at the nanoscale: Discovery is another step toward faster and more energy-efficient optical devices for computation and communication September 22nd, 2014

New chip promising for tumor-targeting research September 22nd, 2014

Twisted graphene chills out: When two sheets of graphene are stacked in a special way, it is possible to cool down the graphene with a laser instead of heating it up, University of Manchester researchers have shown September 22nd, 2014

Academic/Education

Biosensors Get a Boost from Graphene Partnership: $5 Million Investment Supports Dozens of Jobs and Development of 300mm Fabrication Process and Wafer Transfer Facility September 18th, 2014

Malvern technology delivers Malvern reliability in multi-disciplinary lab at Queen Mary University London September 9th, 2014

State University of New York Trustees Unanimously Approve SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) as New Name for Merged SUNY CNSE / SUNYIT September 9th, 2014

New Vice President Takes Helm at CNSE CMOST: Catherine Gilbert To Lead CNSE Children’s Museum of Science and Technology Through Expansion And Relocation August 29th, 2014

Announcements

Engineers show light can play seesaw at the nanoscale: Discovery is another step toward faster and more energy-efficient optical devices for computation and communication September 22nd, 2014

New chip promising for tumor-targeting research September 22nd, 2014

Twisted graphene chills out: When two sheets of graphene are stacked in a special way, it is possible to cool down the graphene with a laser instead of heating it up, University of Manchester researchers have shown September 22nd, 2014

New star-shaped molecule breakthrough: Scientists at The University of Manchester have generated a new star-shaped molecule made up of interlocking rings, which is the most complex of its kind ever created September 22nd, 2014

Energy

Iranian Researchers Synthesize Stable Ceramic Nanopowders at Room Temperature September 20th, 2014

IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting To Celebrate 60th Anniversary as The Leading Technical Conference for Advanced Semiconductor Devices September 18th, 2014

Rice rolls 'neat' nanotube fibers: Rice University researchers' acid-free approach leads to strong conductive carbon threads September 15th, 2014

Simple, Cost-Effective Method Proposed for Synthesizing Zinc Oxide Nanopigments September 15th, 2014

Solar/Photovoltaic

Simple, Cost-Effective Method Proposed for Synthesizing Zinc Oxide Nanopigments September 15th, 2014

Indium/Copper Sulfide Compound Semi-Conductor Synthesized through New Method September 8th, 2014

Material development on the nanoscale: Doped graphene nanoribbons with potential September 8th, 2014

Layered graphene sandwich for next generation electronics September 8th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE