Energy materials

Energy is among the top 10 challenges facing humanity, as identified by the 1986 Nobel Laureate for Chemistry, Prof Richard Smalley. Here at the ATI, our researchers are looking towards developing solutions to these challenges based one energy harvesting technologies and energy efficient devices, in line with the Grand Challenges in Research identified by the University of Surrey; Science delivering global wellbeing.

Research activities

Our key research activities in this area includes:


Perovskite photovoltaics

The rapid emergence of perovskites over the last ten years has led to a meteoric rise in device power conversion efficiency from under 4% to over 25%. Leveraging excellent properties such as high carrier mobilities and charge diffusion lengths, high photoluminescence quantum yields as well as tolerance to processing, conditions, these class of materials are likely to result in technologies that can perform closer to the theoretically predicted limits. 

Here in the ATI our focus on perovskite photovoltaics involves developing new passivation strategies, scaling up for manufacturing and understanding the fundamental physics underlying the performances of this fascinating class of materials. 

Organic-inorganic hybrid photovoltaics

Organic photovoltaics has been area of intensive research at the ATI. Seen as a low cost technology, the field has seen a resurgence due to the developments in the synthesis of new organic semiconductors which has enabled  efficiencies exceeding 17% to be attained. With the possibility of molecular tuning which enables the formation of photovoltaics with different colours, this technology is identified to find applications in powering portable electronic devices and for building integrated photovoltaics. 

At the ATI together with our collaborators, we are working towards scaling up of this technology, refining processing protocols and developing systems for indoor energy harvesting. 

Triboelectric nanogenerators

Triboelectricity of contact electrification which takes place when two different materials come into contact with each other has for long been considered an effect best avoided, especially in low-signal electrical measurements. Here at the ATI we are developing ways to harness this towards developing a wearable energy technology based on triboelectric nanogenerators. Our work has resulted in the development of a unified theoretical model that enables characteristics of these devices to be predicted with results only being limited by the capabilities of commercially available test equipment.