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Sarah Gilligan

PhD Researcher
Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering



Modelling and characterization of metal nanoparticles for plasmonically enhanced luminescent devices for solar cells application

Keywords: Photovoltaics; efficiency; luminescent materials; plasmonic coupling; modelling of MNPs.


Buildings play a significant role in the global energy balance. Typically they account for 20-30% of the total primary energy requirement of industrialized countries, 40% in the EU. Applying photovoltaic (PV) panels to buildings is an important application for wider PV deployment and to achieving our 20% Renewable Energy EU target by 2020. With the proposed research, a disruptive PV technology is described where record increases in efficiency are achieved and costs reduced. In Europe about 50% of the solar radiation is diffuse. This research project will concentrate both direct and diffuse solar radiation in a static building component delivering not only breakthroughs in solar device efficiencies but also the development of unique building integrated components.


Plasmonic coupling between luminescent species (i.e. quantum dots, organic dyes), and metal nanoparticles (MNPs) are to be investigated for their application to concentrate the solar radiation with a plasmonically enhanced luminescent solar concentrator (PLSC) and to down shift the short wavelengths light where the PV cells are most efficient with plasmonically enhanced luminescent downshifting thin-films (PLDS).

The focus of this research is to develop a theoretical model using for example a Monte Carlo Ray-trace modelling or any other alternative method in order to investigate plasmonic interaction for a range of possible device designs. The developed model would determine, validate, and maximize manipulation of the optical properties of luminescent species through modifying the localized electrical boundary condition by exploiting the Plasmonic field. This would followed by;

  • Fabrication of composites structures (luminescent species and MNPs in polymer) for PLSC and PLDS to validate the developed model.
  • Optical characterization of the plasmonically enhanced luminescent devices.
  • The optimum plasmonic luminescent devices will be fabricated and integrated with different PV modules.
  • Indoor and outdoor characterisation of the optimize prototype geometry of PLSC/PV and PLDS/PV.


Project Supervisor: Associate Prof. Sarah Mc Cormack