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New high efficiency, low cost solar panels wins IET A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize

20 January 2014


An Australian engineer, whose team has discovered a way of increasing the efficiency, whilst reducing the cost, of solar panels, has been awarded the Institution of Engineering and Technology's (IET) A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize of £300,000.

Professor Stuart Wenham, from the University of New South Wales (UNSW Australia), was chosen from high calibre candidates from across the world to be awarded the Prize.

Professor Wenham’s research has uncovered a mechanism to control hydrogen atoms to correct deficiencies in silicon – the most costly part of a solar cell. His process allows lower-quality silicon to outperform solar cells made from better 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 2014 to commemorate his award of the A F Harvey Engineering Prize.  For more details, visit: http://www.theiet.org/harvey

The IET A F Harvey Award is named after Dr A F Harvey, an IET member, who bequeathed a generous sum of money to the IET for a Trust Fund to be set up in his name after his death to be used for the advancement of research into the fields of medical, microwave, laser or radar engineering.

Media enquiries to:

Robert Beahan
External Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1438 767336
Mob: +44 (0)7595 400912
Email: rbeahan@theiet.org

Notes to editors:

  • In 2013, the IET provided over £1million in awards, prizes and scholarships, to celebrate excellence and research in the sector and encourage the next generation of engineers and technicians.
  • Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.
  • The IET is one of the world’s largest organisations for engineers and technicians.  We have nearly 160,000 members in 127 countries around the world.
  • The IET is working to engineer a better world. We inspire, inform and influence the global engineering community, supporting technology innovation to meet the needs of society.
  • The IET is the Professional Home for Life® for engineers and technicians, and a trusted source of Essential Engineering Intelligence® and thought leadership.