Over Summer 2018, Edoardo Altamura has worked as a Rank Prize Optoelectronics Intern on developing techniques for photovoltaic characterisation. He describes his research:
Photovoltaic energy proved to play a decisive role in a variety of areas, from everyday life power consumption to space satellites. Assessing the efficiency of devices capable of producing such energy is crucial for exploiting their properties at maximum performance, and even seeking new technologies for pushing them beyond the current standards.
The focus of my internship was on a particular technique for measuring the energy-production efficiency across solar cells, in order to study how manufacturing defects or other forms of impurities affect the overall performance of the device. Using the results obtained by previous MPhys students, I started developing a system capable of projecting random light patterns and reconstructing the efficiency map using Compressed Sensing algorithms.
Such research has been a great opportunity to learn about defects in semicondutor devices, as well as methods for probing them. Moreover, the effort dedicated into optimising custom software and ensuring its scalability gives me reasons to hope for further development of this project, which may result in some useful applications in semiconductor and solar energy industry.
Thanks again to Edoardo for all of his work over the summer!
Edoardo has completed his 10 week placement in the group as an optoelectronics intern, funded by the Rank Prize funds. During his stay he has developed hardware, software, and optical approaches to use compressive sensing with low-cost equipment for characterising photovoltaic cells.
Many thanks to Edoardo for his hard work!
The group will host another 10-week summer studentship, funded through the Rank Prize Funds. The project on “Rapid, multispectral photovoltaic performance mapping using structured light illumination” will see one of our 3rd year undergraduate students Edoardo Altamura design, build and test a device for high speed characterisation.
We look forward to hosting Edoardo through the summer, and welcome any funded applications for summer projects in the group.
Conor, a UoM 4th year undergraduate has spent the summer working in the lab (see here for details). He has been kind enough to describe working on a long summer project in the group:
This summer, I spent ten weeks designing, building, and testing a terahertz time domain spectroscopy system that utilised optical laser diodes rather than the standard technique involving femtosecond lasers. The aim of this system was that it would be significantly cheaper while still retaining the quality of previous systems.
These ten weeks was a huge opportunity to learn in depth about experimental physics and all the struggles and challenges behind the scenes of every journal paper. Dealing with limited resources, liaising with other members of the PSI, and deciding how to approach and deal with various obstacles to your progress were all vital experiences I went through that helped me develop an understanding of the processes involved in taking on real physical research.
In terms of the experiment itself, I handled the taking of measurements by using electronics and analysed data computationally, as well as designing a number of custom parts for use in the experiment. I was also able to use relatively low-tech skills I hadn’t expected would be necessary, such as soldering, to build parts, while simultaneously getting to grips with the electron beam lithography technique used to print antennas on semiconductor substrates.
If you are interested in this research or want to know more about research in the group, please contact Patrick.
Over the past 10 weeks, Conor Wilman (a UoM undergraduate) has been working with the group developing a low-cost and easy method of doing terahertz spectroscopy, known as terahertz quasi-time-domain-spectroscopy. His work, funded by the Rank Prize Funds Summer Studentship has been in trying to replicate this technique in the Manchester labs.
While the final spectrometer unfortunately did not work out, he produced a number of interesting findings and new designs along the way.
Thanks to Conor!