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Summer Science Exhibition 2009

Quantum of sol - the next generation of solar cells









The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


Quantum wells inside our solar cells enhance the absorption of sunlight

Researchers from Imperial College London are developing the next generation of solar panels to harness the sun to provide clean and affordable electricity.

Solar energy has long been recognised as a potential alternative to fossil fuels, but the technology was traditionally expensive and inefficient. This is now changing.

"Solar energy is one of the most sustainable energy sources we have, but until recently, the technology to convert it was relatively inefficient," says Dr Nicholas Ekins-Daukes from Imperial College London. "We specialise in using nanotechnology to increase the efficiency of solar electricity generation and thereby also reduce the cost."

Solar cells, like the human eye, are only sensitive to certain parts of the sun's spectrum. This new technology tailors the solar cells on the nanoscale, to increase the spectrum of light they can absorb and use. The high efficiency cells are integrated into optical systems that concentrate the sunlight further, reducing the amount of expensive cell material required.

The researchers recently set the record for the most efficient nanostrctured solar cell, with approximately twice the efficiency of commercially available solar cells.

"These ‘third generation' cells will help accelerate the adoption of solar energy as a green energy source," says Nicholas.

The Quantum Photovoltaics group would like to acknowledge the sponsorship and support from


  • Dr N. Ekins-Daukes, Professor K. W. J. Barnham, Dr A. J. Chatten, Dr D. J. Farrell, Dr R. Ginige, Ms J. Adams, Mr R. Bose, Mr B. Browne, Mr M. Führer and Ms L. Hirst, Imperial College London

Audio intro (mp3) - Rahul Bose


  • Quantum of Sol is Ready to Roll!
  • The Quantum of Sol emerges from a garage in Kent...

See all exhibits from 2009

Quantum of sol - the next generation of solar cells The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK