IET A F Harvey Prize winner announced

17 January 2014
IET Communications team
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Professor Stuart Wenham

Professor Stuart Wenham, winner of the IET's A F Harvey Prize. 

Australian professor awarded £300,000 for solar panel research.

An Australian engineer, whose team discovered a way to increase the efficiency while reducing the cost of solar panels, has been awarded the IET’s prestigious 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 IET 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 on 21 May 2014 to commemorate his award of the A F Harvey Engineering Prize. The lecture will be available to watch live on IET.tv. 

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.

It forms part of the IET’s wider awards series, which last year provided over £1 million in awards, prizes and scholarships to celebrate excellence and research in the sector and encourage the next generation of engineers and technicians.