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$4M boost to solar cell research

Thursday May 9 2013

A $4 million grant under the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF) has been awarded to Swinburne and CSIRO for taking the NanoPlas technology and thermal management technology from the laboratory to a small scale pilot project. (Official media release). The team of researchers will be led by Professor Min Gu Director of Swinburne's Centre for Micro-Photonics.

The NanoPlas solar cell works by incorporating a thin layer of metallic nanoparticles into conventional thin film solar cells to effectively scatter light into the cells. This increases the amount of light entering the cells, improving the conversion of light into electricity. The SIEF grant will enable the integration of the NanoPlas solar technology with a thermal management system for cooling of the cells.

"One of the critical challenges the thin film solar cell faces is low energy conversion efficiency due to the insufficient absorption from the very thin silicon layer," Professor Gu said. "The new funding will allow us to address this issue."

According to Professor Gu, the NanoPlas thin film technology can be directly integrated into building glass like a tint layer converting normal windows into solar cells. The technology also has the potential to make solar energy more competitive in the household electricity supply market.

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