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UK’s largest sustainable energy research centre receives funding boost of more than £600,000

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Loughborough University’s Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST) has received a cash injection of more than £600,000 to further develop its research in next generation photovoltaics.

Nanoco Group Plc, which designs, develops and manufactures quantum dots, solar inks and other nanomaterials, received a grant of £399,562 from Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) as part of its joint project with CREST to progress its work in printable solar cell technology.

CREST is the largest and leading UK sustainable energy research centre, and its research influences industry, policy makers, researchers and educators from across the world.

The aim of the two-year project, which has a total value of more than £800,000, is to optimise the firm’s semiconductor material which converts sunlight into electricity. The technology consists of nanoparticles of CIGS (Copper, Indium, Gallium and Selenium), which is used to create a printable ink to fabricate thin film photovoltaic modules. The ink can be applied to glass surfaces, flexible, thin metal sheets or polymers. These can then be used on structural fabrics on buildings or covers for car parks.

Michael Edelman, Nanoco's Chief Executive Officer, said: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to work with the world class photovoltaic research centre at Loughborough University and to advance our thin film solar ink technology. We have already achieved an efficiency of around 17 per cent from our solar ink and we now look forward to working with the CREST team to scale the technology up to the size of a mini-module. Solar power is an area of increasing focus for us at Nanoco, complementing our work in cadmium-free quantum dots for electronic displays, LED lighting and bio-imaging.”

Meanwhile, CREST has been awarded a grant of £206,631 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to assist Nanoco to increase the efficiency of its solar ink.

Michael Walls, Professor of Photovoltaics at CREST, said: “Nanoco has already put together devices with 17 per cent efficiency and we’re aiming to help increase that efficiency with the grant from EPSRC. An increase in efficiency of just one per cent is enough to bring the cost down dramatically, while still retaining a high quality.”

Dr Jake Bowers, Lecturer in Photovoltaics at CREST, added: “CREST has developed anti-reflective coatings for CIGS and we will be helping Nanoco to measure their devices and determine the durability of the materials.”

To find out more about CREST, click here.