Associate Professor Brett Hallam
Associate Professor

Associate Professor Brett Hallam

Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering


Dr Brett Hallam is an Associate Professor and Scientia Fellow in the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering at UNSW. His research interests are focused on a number of aspects of solar panel manufacturing. These include developing new cell architectures and processes to improve the efficiency and reduce manufacturing cost in areas such as selective emitter formation, laser processing, hydrogen passivation and defect-engineering for silicon solar cells. A key focus of his recent research has been improving the fundamental understanding of hydrogen passivation mechanisms in silicon solar cells to overcome the negative impact of performance limiting defects, having developed advanced hydrogenation processes to improve the industrial solar cell efficiencies and reliability of PERC (achieved 24% efficiency with partner LONGi), TOPCon (24.6% with partner Jinko - now over 25%), and efficiency gains in the range of 0.4-0.7% absolute for industrial SHJ solar cells with a number of companies, with efficiencies as high as 24.5% (Hanergy). He is now focused on understanding and addressing material challenges for terawatt scale deployment of photovoltaics in the efforts towards net-zero emissions by 2050. This includes addressing critical material constraints for scarce elements such as silver for all industrial silicon solar cell technologies, indium and bismuth for heterojunction solar cells, and methods to reduce the consumption and environmental impact of using abundant materials at the cell, module and system level like aluminium, silicon, copper, steel, glass and concrete.


Current Research Topics

  • Advanced hydrogenation for next-generation solar cells (eg. SHJ, TOPCon and other passivated contacts)
  • Next-generation Selective Emitters for PERC and TOPCon Solar Cells
  • Understanding and solving material challenges for sustainable terawatt scale deployment of photovoltaics
  • Advanced methods to reduce silver consumption for screen-printed solar cells
  • Plating for silicon solar cells

I am always open to suggestions from prospective students for new topics within the field of silicon solar cells.

Current Research Projects

  • Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA): Hydrogenated and Hybrid-Heterojunction p-type Silicon Solar Cells
  • ARENA: World-Record Commercial High-Efficiency n-type Solar PV Cells through Recombination Analysis and Innovative Passivation
  • ARENA: Hydrogenated Bifacial PERL Silicon Solar PV Cells With Laser Doping and Plated Contacts
  • ARENA: Development and Commercialisation of High-Efficiency Silicon Solar Cell Technologies
  • ARENA: Next-generation Selective Emitters for PERC and TOPCon Solar Cells

I am always open to suggestions from prospective students for new topics within the field of silicon solar cells.


  • PhD in Photovoltaic Engineering "High-Efficiency Laser Doped Silicon Solar Cells with Advanced Hydrogenation" (The University of New South Wales, 2014)
  • BE (first class honours and the University Medal) in Photovoltaics and Solar Energy / BSc. in physics and physical oceanography/meteorology (The University of New South Wales, 2009)

Invited Research Placements

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Freiburg, Germany, June - August 2017)
  • Oxford University (Oxford, United Kingdom, July - September 2016)
  • IMEC (Leuven, Belgium, April 2013 - March 2014)

Industry Experience

  • Consultant for Suntech Power developing the innovative PLUTO technology and part of the team to develop the first commercial p-type Cz solar cell with an efficiency over 20% (2010 - 2012)
  • Part of the Technology Transfer Team developing and commercialising UNSW crystalline silicon solar cell technologies including managing a collaboration between UNSW and Shinsung Holdings (Korea) (2009-2014)


  • 2018 Scientia Fellow (UNSW)
  • 2017 NSW Premier Prize for Science & Engineering in Energy Innovation (NSW Government)
  • 2017 J.G. Russell Award (Australian Academy of Science)
  • 2017 Discovery Early Career Research Award (Australian Research Council)
  • 2016 Green Talent (German Federal Ministry for Education and Research)
  • 2016 Ulrich Goesele Young Scientist Award (Crystalline Silicon Solar Cell and Silicon Materials Workshop)
  • 2015 Finalist for the SolarWorld Innovations Junior Einstein competition

Outside of Work

I love the beach. If I'm not working or sleeping, you will probably find me there surfing or kiteboarding. I enjoy travelling around the world to new places to surf, kite or snowboard.

  • Journal articles | 2022
    Chen D; Madumelu C; Kim M; Stefani BV; Soeriyadi A; Kang D; Sio HC; Zhang X; Zhu P; Hallam B; Wright M, 2022, 'Investigating the degradation behaviours of n+-doped Poly-Si passivation layers: An outlook on long-term stability and accelerated recovery', Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, vol. 236, pp. 111491 - 111491,
  • Conference Presentations | 2018
    Chen D; Hamer P; Kim M; Bourett-Sicotte G; Liu S; Ciesla A; Chan C; Chen R; Fung TH; Vargas C; Ye Q; Abbott M; Hallam BJ; Wenham SR, 2018, 'Hydrogen Induced Degradation : A Possible Mechanism for Light and Elevated Temperature Induced Degradation (LeTID) in n-type Silicon', Vol. 185, pp. 174 - 182, presented at 8th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics, Lausanne Switzerland, 19 March 2018 - 18 May 2018,
    Conference Papers | 2015
    Hallam BJ; Hamer PG; Wang S; Song L; Nampalli N; Abbott MD; Chan CE; Lu D; Wenham AM; Mai L; Borojevic N; Li A; Chen D; Kim MY; Azmi A; Wenham S, 2015, 'Advanced Hydrogenation of Dislocation Clusters and Boron-oxygen Defects in Silicon Solar Cells', in Energy Procedia, pp. 799 - 809,
    Conference Papers | 2015
    Lu PHD; Hallam B; Chan C; Wenham A; Abbott M; Chen D; Kim MY; Mai L; Wang S; Borojevic N; Chong CM; Wenham S, 2015, '19.1 % laser-doped selective emitter P-type multi-crystalline UMG silicon solar cell', in 2015 IEEE 42nd Photovoltaic Specialist Conference, PVSC 2015,
    Conference Papers | 2009
    Wang S; Puzzer T; Vogl B; Tjahjono B; Hallam BJ; Eadie M; Borojevic N; Hameiri Z; Wenham S, 2009, 'Overcoming over-plating problems on acid textured multicrystalline wafers with silicon nitride coated surfaces', in Proceedings of the 24th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference, 24th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference, Hamburg, Germany, pp. 1449 - 1452, presented at 24th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference, Hamburg, Germany, 24 September 2009 - 28 September 2009