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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R006520/1
Title: Complex flows and optics to model topographical substrate design: Solar panel application balancing superhydrophobicity and concentrated photovoltaics
Principal Investigator: Sibley, Dr D N
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Mathematical Sciences
Organisation: Loughborough University
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 18 December 2017 Ends: 17 June 2019 Value (£): 100,692
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Continuum Mechanics Fluid Dynamics
Materials Characterisation Microsystems
Solar Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
02 Aug 2017 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 2 August 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Fluids interract with surfaces in a vast variety of natural phenomena, and technological and industrial applications. Theoretical work over the last few decades on the motion of contact lines---the location between two immiscible fluids and a solid surface---has enabled increasingly efficient oil extraction, contributed to a wide variety of printing and coating applications, and opened up the fields of micro and nanofluidics. In these applications, the focus is on the motion and profile of the fluid and has to take account of many physical effects across a wide range of lengthscales. However, the physical effects are predominately those that affect the motion of the fluid, rather than any impact from the presence of the fluid on optical, thermal or other electromagnetic wave properties.

Whilst optical materials, and wetting and spreading, have received attention individually for several decades, their combined effects have not been scrutinised in detail, and several unresolved issues still elude us. In particular the coupling of the physics of fluid dynamics with electromagnetic radiation: Whenever a surface that is designed for its light, ultra-violet, or other properties, interacts with fluids such as rainwater there will be both fluid dynamics and electromagnetic wave propagation challenges to model. A prototype situation in this proposal is that of rain on solar panels, but many other examples exist: car windscreens, coated windows on buildings, radar or infra-red sensors on cars (e.g. for automatic braking systems), or at smaller scales multiphase fluids in microfluidic devices probed via visible light or other electromagnetic waves. In essence we consider any advanced optical material that has an interplay with fluids.

This project will explore the fundamental relationships between light, microstructure, and hydrodynamics for the design of advanced optical materials, in a synergistic and interdisciplinary framework combining theory and computations---with the ultimate goal being optimal design leading to more efficient, safer, and lower cost materials/surfaces. In particular for the prototype of photovoltaic surfaces, it is to understand how best to achieve the objectives of self-cleaning, reflection reduction, and concentrated photovoltaics with one substrate design, whilst modelling the situation in a generality to be able to inform the myriad of other applications where electromagnetic waves interact with moving fluids.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.lboro.ac.uk