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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: GR/A00614/01
Principal Investigator: Nelson, Professor J
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
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Department: Dept of Physics
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Advanced Fellowship (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 April 2000 Ends: 30 June 2003 Value (£): 104,595
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Solar Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
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Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Recent years have seen an increasing interest in photovoltaics as an environmentally benign and commercially realisable energy resource for the future. Research is concentrated in two areas; the development of high efficiency, high purity devices for capital intensive applications such as space and telecommunications; and the development of cheaper lower purity, mass producible devices for low power terrestrial and consumer applications,High-efficiency crystalline devices can be produced by present day technology with efficiencies close to the limit for a single band gap photoconverter. Efficiency improvements are therefore sought principally through the exploitation of multiple band gaps to harness the range of solar photon energies more selectively. The quantum well solar cell (QWSC) , pioneered by our research group at Imperial College, represents one novel pathway to higher efficiency.A most promising direction amongst the lower purity, lower cost options is the dye-sensitised thin film photoelectrochemical cell (PEC) pioneered by Michael Graetzel and co-workers at Lausanne. The cell generates power at a very respectable efficiency of 10% whilst being produced by an extremely cheap disposition process. It has simulated world wide interest on account of its immediate industrial potential.Though different in fundamental respects, the quantum well solar cell and the photoelectrochemical cell are similar in that they both depend upon efficient carrier transport through nanometre-sized semiconductor structures, and that conventional theory of bulk photovolvic devices is inadequate to describe the current-voltage response in either case.During the last six years I have developed models for the optical and electronic characteristics of quantum well structures in solar cells and used these to explain the photovoltaic response. In particular, I have established that carrier escape from quantum wells is important and that the quasi-Fermi potential distribution across the quantum structures implies a non-equilibrium distribution of carriers.I now propose to apply this experience to develop essential theoretical tools for the modelling and optimisation of the photoelectrochemical cell.
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk