Description of field of research:

The global market for photovoltaics (PV) has seen tremendous growth during the last few decades. With continuously increasing energy conversion efficiency and reduced cost, the electricity generated from PV is now cheaper than coal-fired power plants in Australia and many other places in the world.

Characterisation plays a vital role in the optimisation of solar cells and making them more efficient. In particular, luminescence imaging is a powerful tool for spatially resolved inspection of solar cell quality, helping researchers and manufacturers quickly identify problems in solar cells. Photoluminescence (PL) imaging is a technique invented and commercialised by UNSW researchers. It has been widely used in all the value chain of PV.

In our research group, we continue to improve luminescence imaging techniques to make them more powerful and applicable to more types of solar cells. In this project, we will develop novel characterisation techniques based on luminescence imaging for next-generation solar cells. You will be able to develop inspection techniques that can help improve the efficiency of state-of-the-art silicon solar cells, as well as multijunction solar cells.


Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering

Research areas

Solar cells, Photovoltaic, Semiconductor, Renewable Energy

In this project, you will work with the ACDC research team ( The team focuses on the characterisation of solar cells. It is made up of around 20 researchers and students. The group has a very friendly environment. We have students who finished a ToR project with us, stayed for their 4th-year thesis, and later transitioned to a PhD in the group.

You will mainly work with Dr. Yan Zhu. He has developed several novel characterisation techniques which have been well recognised in international PV research conferences. Many other experts in PV, including the inventor of PL imaging, will also help and guide you during this project. We will ensure a smooth start to your project, and throughout its duration, you will have a better chance to develop independent research skills.

The outcome of this project will be novel characterisation techniques based on the adaption of conventional luminescence imaging. The method will be applied to diagnose the non-uniformity of some state-of-the-art silicon solar cells and next generation multijunction solar cells. Essential parameters of solar cells will be mapped using the developed techniques.

Potentially, we will develop a prototype of a new characterisation tool. There is a chance to publish the outcomes as a conference paper or journal paper. Our previous ToR students presented their work in the US and Japan!

Nevertheless, the most important outcome of the project will be you, an undergraduate student who enjoys doing research, and understanding the basic skills needed for conducting good research.

The novel characterisation techniques to be developed in this project will benefit from the extensive research experience in novel luminescence imaging techniques of our group. We have several unique homemade luminescence imaging setups in our lab, all customised to meet different purposes. (see attached an interesting luminescence imaging resulted from one of our systems) We will either modify one of our existing setups or build a completely new one. State-of-the-art solar cells to be investigated have also been provided by our industrial partners.

Through the regular group meetings, all the other members of our research team will also use their expertise in characterisation to help you solve the problems you may encounter. We also have experts in numerical simulation, which is beneficial for our understanding of the measurement results.