Professor Stuart Wenham is the winner of this year's A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize

Solar cell engineer wins top award

The engineer behind new high efficiency, low cost solar panels has won the IET's A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize.

Professor Stuart Wenham, from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, beat of competition from across the world to be awarded the £300,000 prize established to help advance research in the fields of medical, microwave, laser or radar engineering.

The Australian’s research uncovered a mechanism to control hydrogen atoms to correct deficiencies in silicon – the most costly part of a solar cell – allowing panels made of lower-quality silicon to outperform those made from higher quality materials.

Professor Wenham said: “It is a great honour to receive the A F Harvey Engineering Prize and the international recognition that it brings to our breakthrough technology.

“Our research team at UNSW, which holds the world record in silicon solar cell efficiency, has discovered how to control the charge state of hydrogen atoms in silicon and we will be working with the world’s biggest manufacturers to commercialise this low-cost technology. This generous prize will go a long way to helping us take this research to the next stage.”

IET President, Barry Brooks, said: “Professor Wenham has played a pivotal role in the wide scale development of silicon solar cell technology.

“His pioneering research and internationally recognised leadership in the field have enabled commercial exploitation of the technology for the benefit of the global community seeking renewable energy solutions at affordable prices.  He is a truly deserving recipient of the IET A F Harvey Engineering Prize and an inspiration to all engineers.”

Professor Wenham will give a special lecture, which will also be available to watch live online, on 21 May to commemorate his award.  Details are available on the IET website.

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