Solar technology breakthrough at UQ

13 March 2020
Professor Lianzhou Wang and his team.

A research team led by Professor Lianzhou Wang has set a world record for the conversion of solar energy to electricity via the use of nanoparticles called ‘quantum dots’.

When exposed to solar energy these dots pass electrons between one another generating an electrical current.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the US recognised the world record of 16.6% efficiency – the previous record in quantum dot solar cell category was 13.4%.

“This new generation of quantum dots is compatible with more affordable and large-scale printable technologies. The near 25% improvement in efficiency we have achieved over the previous world record is important. It is effectively the difference between quantum dot solar cell technology being an exciting ‘prospect’ and being commercially viable,” Professor Wang said.

As part of the research PhD student, Mehri Ghasemi used high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) at CMM to study the interface quality and composition of the perovskite layer in the device structure. A focused ion beam was used to cut the sample to expose a cross-section of the device for imaging with HRTEM. The elemental distribution was then analysed in each layer using EDS. Along with this Mehri used SEM to gain an understanding of the structure of the quantum dots. In particular their size, shape and distribution on the surface of the film.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj AC extended his congratulations to the UQ team.

“The world needs to rapidly reduce carbon emissions and this requires us to invest much more in research to improve existing energy-generation technologies and develop entirely new ones,” Professor Høj said.

The findings have been published in the Journal Nature Energy (DOI:

The work was funded by the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Programs in collaboration with a number of colleagues both in Australia and overseas.

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