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The research area ‘Photovoltaic energy conversion’ covers efficient, low-cost, sustainable and widely applicable conversion of sunlight into electricity using solar cells, modules, foils and systems. It is carried out in a joint effort with AMOLF, where I also hold a part-time position. Within this broad area, my ambitions are to contribute to research and development of novel (i.e. beyond today’s technologies) conversion principles and devices for ultra-high efficiency, to do inspiring and insightful teaching in the field of photovoltaic solar energy, to supervise master and PhD students working with and at TNO, to communicate about the numerous possibilities and huge potential of solar energy in the Netherlands and worldwide, and, last but not least, to create active links between academic research and TNO’s applied research and technology development, especially at low Technology Readiness Levels, in the TNO Roadmap Solar Energy. The work in the Chair also contributes to embedding TNO’s Roadmap Solar Energy in the national en EU research programs and community, for instance in the framework of the National Research Agenda (NWA), the Mission-driven Innovation Programs (MMIP’s) in support of the National Climate Treaty (Klimaatakkoord) and the European Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan.
The photovoltaics research group at the University of Amsterdam focusses on the use of nanocrystals (quantum dots) for solar spectrum conversion for efficiency enhancement of solar cells and modules. Layers composed of the these nanocrystals potentially serve as ‘efficiency boosters’ that can be added without major modifications of the device design. In joint projects, we have explored the working principles and effectiveness of nanocrystals on silicon solar cells as they are developed in the TNO Roadmap. So far no higher efficiency has been achieved, but fundamental understanding essential for future success has been obtained. Further, two PhD students were supervised (thesis subjects: Hot carriers in cool nanocrystals and Controlling light emission of nanoparticles) and a large number of bachelor and master students has been supervised on research topics ranging from dependence of efficiency on angular distribution of light incidence on solar modules to analyses of solar power plant design and performance.