Public Release: 

European Commission funds research into new solar materials

Research and development of a new and potentially low-cost class of solar materials has been given €4 million in funding by the European Commission

University of Bath

Research and development of a new and potentially low-cost class of solar materials has been given €4 million in funding by the European Commission, with the establishment of a new research training network led by the University of Bath.

MAESTRO, (Making perovskites truly exploitable), has begun hiring researchers to gain new knowledge and provide innovation in the exploitation of perovskite materials, which recent scientific breakthroughs have demonstrated show great potential as a solar material.

Perovskites are a new class of light absorber material for solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity. These solar materials recently attracted worldwide attention when the efficiency of the cells increased at the fastest pace in the history of solar energy conversion.

Their low cost and ease of fabrication have made them a highly attractive prospect for the solar market as well the LED display industry. MAESTRO has been established to make perovskite-based devices commercially viable.

A trans-European project, MAESTRO is an inter-sectoral and multidisciplinary network of 10 academic and seven industrial partners from nine EU and EU-Associated countries: the UK, Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Israel and Switzerland.

Professor Alison Walker, from the University of Bath Department of Physics and coordinator of MAESTRO, said: "Tremendous progress has been made on perovskite technologies since they were found to be good solar absorbers at the start of the decade, and now MAESTRO will help us unlock their full potential.

"Improving device lifetime, increasing the scale of manufacturing, eliminating the effect of material toxicity and boosting efficiency will further establish perovskite as the solar material of the future."

MAESTRO researchers will combine expertise and state-of the-art infrastructure to find means of increasing cell stability as well as attempting to maintain record efficiencies when moving to large-scale manufacturing processes.

Researchers will be based at each partner institution and will work in a diverse range of fields, including physics, chemistry, materials science and electrical engineering.

Through the creation of the next generation of European experts in the field of alternative energy, MAESTRO will help EU and associate countries meet environmental emissions targets, as well as strengthening European competitiveness in global markets by helping secure the future of EU solar and displays sectors.

The project is led by the University of Bath's Professor Alison Walker. Its UK partners also include the University of Oxford, the University of Swansea and the companies Oxford PV, Greatcell Solar and the National Physical Laboratory in the UK.

For further information, please contact Prof. Alison Walker, University of Bath at a.b.walker@bath.ac.uk or visit https://maestro-itn.eu/

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For further information, please contact Chris Melvin in the University of Bath Press Office on +44 (0)1225 383 941 or c.m.melvin@bath.ac.uk

Notes for editors:

MAESTRO is an inter-sectoral and multidisciplinary network of 10 academic and 7 industrial partners from 9 EU and Associated countries. These are: UK, Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Israel and Switzerland.

The full list of partners can be found at https://maestro-itn.eu/partners/

Researchers are hired by each partner and will collectively find means of prolonging cell lifetimes, reducing their toxicity whilst maintaining these exceptional efficiencies along with up-scaling manufacturing. At the same time, they will develop skills and experience of cross sector and cross disciplinary research.

Training is provided in science and technology across physics, chemistry, materials science, electrical engineering. The researchers will be encouraged to consider exploitation at all stages from laboratory to fabrication. They will acquire transferable skills of communication, information technology, organization, planning, teamwork, leadership and the skills needed for innovation, such as understanding markets, product life cycles, business models, return on investment.

The University of Bath is one of the UK's leading universities both in terms of research and our reputation for excellence in teaching, learning and graduate prospects.

The University is rated Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the Government's assessment of teaching quality in universities, meaning its teaching is of the highest quality in the UK.

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 research assessment 87 per cent of our research was defined as 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent'. From developing fuel efficient cars of the future, to identifying infectious diseases more quickly, or working to improve the lives of female farmers in West Africa, research from Bath is making a difference around the world. Find out more: http://www.bath.ac.uk/research/

Well established as a nurturing environment for enterprising minds, Bath is ranked highly in all national league tables. We are ranked 5th in the UK by The Guardian University Guide 2018, 6th for graduate employment and 4th in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2018. Bath has also been named Sports University of the Year 2018 by The Times and Sunday Times.

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