• UNSW's Ashraf Uddin with one of the next generation hybrid perovskite solar cells. Photo: Robert Largent/UNSWUNSW's Ashraf Uddin with one of the next generation hybrid perovskite solar cells. Photo: Robert Largent/UNSW

UNSW’s solar energy innovation attracts AU$1.5million investment

UNSW engineers who have developed a new ‘paint-on’ solar cell, have recently received AU$1.5million of seed funding from a top international investor in order to develop the project further for commercial use.

The low-cost, high-efficiency solar cell can be ‘painted’ on to building tiles, windows and car roofs to generate electricity.  Associate Professor Ashraf Uddin who is leading the research project says that it could be possible to coat a two-bedroom house with the cells, creating a zero-energy house for less than AU$2000.

Unlike other developments in solar cell technology, UNSW’s design uses hybrid perovskites to manufacture the cells, as opposed to the more expensive silicon, which is currently used. The team hopes to achieve greater than 20% conversion efficiency rates within three years with the investment.

Chilean private equity investor Alberto Chang-Rajii, who also owns a 1% share in Google thanks to an early investment opportunity, has contributed the funding and will form a research partnership with the UNSW team. Although the technology is still in the early stages of development, Chang-Rajii sees enormous potential: “I’m not investing in a tiny microscopic cell in a lab, I’m investing in the future homes that will not require energy because their tiles will be photovoltaic panels.” This is “world-scale” technology that “can reach everyone”, he says.  “It will change the way we build and use electronics. It’s a game-changer.”

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