Pioneering solar engineer Stuart Wenham passes away


The University of New South Wales (UNSW) is mourning the passing of Professor Stuart Wenham, director of the Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence, and a pioneering researcher and inventor of solar cell technologies.

Wenham passed away peacefully on the morning of Saturday 23 December with family and close friends by his side. He died from malignant melanoma, for which he had been in treatment since being diagnosed on September 8, and had hoped to make a full recovery – but his condition declined quite suddenly.

“Stuart was a wonderful colleague and an inspiring leader who will be deeply missed by all who knew him,” said Professor Mark Hoffman, UNSW’s Dean of Engineering.

“His influence as an Australian engineer on the world’s transition to renewable energy was considerable. In an incredible career spanning more than a quarter century, he invented or co-invented suites of solar cell technologies that have been licensed to solar cell makers around the world and have had a major impact on renewable energy generation.”

Wenham is inventor of the Advanced Hydrogenation hydrogen passivation technology, which has allowed efficiency of solar cells to be boosted a hundredfold. The technology, based on the use of lasers to control the charge state of hydrogen atoms within a silicon wafer, was heralded as a “breakthrough for silicon photovoltaics” by the UK Institution of Engineering and Technology when it awarded him the 2013 A.F. Harvey Engineering Prize.