With the continuously increasing energy conversion efficiency and reduced cost of solar cells, electricity generated from photovoltaics (PV) is becoming the most important energy source for human beings in the next decades. PV is also an essential weapon to confront the threat of climate change we are facing. Among the many scientific research studies and breakthroughs that are at the forefront of such a development for PV, the last few years have witnessed the outstandingly quick rise of perovskite (PVK) solar cells, closely followed by the emergence of the so-called PVK-silicon (Si) “tandem” solar cells, which hold the promise to take cost reduction of PV electricity generation to a next level.

PVK and PVK-Si tandem solar cells are emerging technologies though, and, while lab-scale devices can show high energy conversion efficiency, a lot of progress in fabrication processes scalability and performance stability is still required. PVK materials, especially, bring a challenge to the scientific community, as they are known for their moisture, oxygen, and ultraviolet (UV) light sensitivity. In addition, other functional material layers in PVK solar cells can also degrade over time. Aiming at solving these issues, a lot of research effort is currently directed toward better understanding PVK and PVK-Si tandem solar cell degradation mechanisms.

The first step toward this goal is to thoroughly observe the performance evolution of PVK and PVK-Si tandem solar cells in long-term tests in a loaded condition. Although numerous stability studies have been conducted indoors under simulated sunlight, there is a lack of reporting on the outdoor stability of these devices. The latter, however, is crucial to improve our knowledge of degradation mechanisms for these emerging technologies.

In this project, we aim to investigate the outdoor stability of PVK and PVK-Si tandem solar cells in the specific case of Sydney climate. For this, you will build new outdoor PV performance monitoring capabilities from scratch that meets all the specificities of emerging PV solar cells (adapted hardware and measurement procedures, dedicated software, etc.). You will use a combination of different sensors and their respective instrumentation to monitor environmental parameters while performing continuous or periodic measurements of the solar cells' performance. In the second phase, thorough data analysis will be conducted on the degradation dynamics of essential parameters of PVK and PVK-Si tandem solar cells. Hence, this project can be seen as two-fold: setting up outdoor performance monitoring capabilities first, then conducting PV performance degradation studies.


Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering

Research Area

Photovoltaics | Solar energy | Metrology | Instrumentation

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

You will mainly work with Dr Félix Gayot. He recently joined the group to work on the luminescence-based characterisation of tandem solar cells, after having completed his PhD in material sciences (applied to the field of PVK-based PV) in France. Being new in the team and on his current research topic makes him understand the difficulties of doing research in an unfamiliar area. Therefore, he is willing to spend time sharing the necessary knowledge and skills. 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 outcomes of this project include: new outdoor performance monitoring capabilities specific for PVK-based PV, data on the performance degradation of PVK solar cells and PVK-Si tandem solar cells, and a better understanding of the degradation dynamics for this emerging technology.

You will potentially have the opportunity to present your work at research conferences, or even publish your results as a journal paper.

But of course, 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.

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Within our research lab, you will have access to SPREE rooftop facilities to implement your own monitoring system as well as many measurement instruments to play with. You will also be provided by academic (and eventually, industrial) partners with PVK and PVK-Si tandem cells that are at the actual forefront of PV research.

Apart from guidance from Dr Félix Gayot, you will also have the chance to get advice from other members of the ACDC group. We will use our experience and expertise to help you build the capabilities to solve any problems you might encounter. Besides, through our regular group meetings, you will have the chance to learn various leading-edge research topics.

Website of our research group: https://www.acdc-pv-unsw.com/