Project Title: Fabrication and optimisation of large scale plasmonically enhanced luminescent solar concentrator devices for building integrated photovoltaic application
Keywords: Plasmonic, Luminescent Solar Concentrators, Fabrication, Optimisation, Photovoltaics, Building Integration, Renewable Energy, Solar
Climate change is one of the most significant challenges facing humanity in the modern era, and it is primarily caused by our excessive dependence on fossil fuels as an energy source.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, global carbon emissions reached almost 40 gigatons in 2021. As a researcher, my main objective is to contribute to the reduction of our reliance on fossil fuels, which are severely damaging the planet. My research focuses on developing and implementing innovative solutions that leverage the abundant supply of clean solar energy as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. By embracing renewable energy sources like solar, we can reduce the negative impacts of climate change and create a more sustainable future for generations to come.
In just one hour, the Earth receives approximately 173,000 TWh of energy from the sun and to put that into perspective, a total of approximately 160,000 TWh was used globally in 2021. The aim of my research is to harness this unrivalled source of cleaner energy and to hopefully convert it more efficiently, more cost-effectively and make the installations aesthetically pleasing. Photovoltaic (PV) panels are becoming more commonplace on the roofs of many buildings nowadays and my work is focusing on other methods of photovoltaic building integration.
In particular, the devices I am working on (see image above) are called ‘Plasmonic Luminescent Solar Concentrators’ or PLSC for short. PLSC layers are essentially polymeric waveguides containing specific dyes, metal nanoparticles or quantum dots to further enhance the Silicon photovoltaics’ capacity of converting solar rays to electrical energy. The concept behind these layers is that they can capture the sunlight and redirect the photons towards the edges of the material. The edges of said layers are where the PV strips are attached meaning that for a very minimal surface area of PV required, we are maximising the amount of the photons reaching them, therefore increasing the efficiency and reducing the overall costs.
Prototype devices have been fabricated and tested for their optical characteristics and a test system has been deployed for outdoor testing after confirmation of their suitability via indoor solar simulation tests. The overall concept for the PLSCs is to increase their size and essentially have them replace the windows so that buildings can not only produce their own more sustainable energy but also have an appealing modern design.
I am hoping to optimise the efficiency and design of the individual panels before tackling the building integration aspect of the project. Ideally the panels should be available in a variety of colours and sizes to suit different architectural approaches and to accelerate the transition to more sustainable building design.
Supervisor: Professor Sarah McCormack