The University of Southampton

New Professor forecasts exciting times for solar cell research

Published: 
4 September 2008
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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.

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.

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