Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd pleasantly announced that Suntech's Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Professor Stuart Wenham, was awarded the prestigious Institution of Engineering and Technology's (IET) A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize of 300,000 pounds for Professor Wenham and his team's discovery of a new technique which can improve the efficiency of lower-grade silicon used in the production of solar panels.
"The advanced hydrogenation technology, developed collaboratively with Suntech, will allow lower-quality silicon to outperform solar cells made from better quality materials, producing higher efficiencies at significantly lower cost," said Professor Wenham, Suntech's CTO and Scientia Professor of the School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering at UNSW Australia.
"It is a great honor to receive the A F Harvey Engineering Prize and the international recognition that it brings to this important innovation. The prize money will go a long way to helping us take the research to the next stage," said Professor Wenham.
"Our UNSW team is now working with the world's biggest solar manufacturers, like Suntech, through collaborative agreements with NewSouth Innovations to commercialize this low-cost technology," said Professor Wenham, who acknowledged the Australian Renewable Energy Agency's funding support for the project, which is expected to be completed in 2016.
Hydrogenation technology, which Professor Wenham's team has researched, enables the manipulation of hydrogen atoms within a silicon solar cell to eliminate the effect of impurities on the efficiency of the cell. By neutralizing impurities within the cell, lower grade silicon can function like more expensive, higher grade silicon, resulting in an efficiency boost and cost reduction.