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Aussie academic takes UK prize for solar innovation

AN Australian academic has won a UK engineering prize for his and his team’s work in improving the efficiency and cost of solar panels.

As The Australian reports, Professor Stuart Wenham from the University of NSW (UNSW) was awarded the A. F. Harvey Engineering Research Prize from the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

The prize, one of the richest and most prestigious in the field, is worth £300,000 ($A561,000).

The research resulted in the discovery of means to control hydrogen atoms to correct deficiencies in silicon, which is the most costly material in solar photovoltaic cells. As a result, Professor Wenham and team were able to make lower-quality silicon outperform solar cells made from better-quality materials.

The SMH reports that Wenham plans to use the prize money to further his team’s research. "The prizemoney is going to be very valuable for us," he said.

"We're going to use that to expand one of the research areas that actually contributed to winning us the prize."

The research has attracted the interest of industry. Six solar photovoltaic cell companies have signed up with UNSW as industry partners. These include China Sunergy which signed up just last week.

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