More efficient solar cells

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The materials scientist Michael Saliba is appointed new Head of the Institute of

The materials scientist Michael Saliba is appointed new Head of the Institute of Photovoltaics at the University of Stuttgart

Prof. Michael Saliba will take up his new position as Head of the Institute of Photovoltaics at the University of Stuttgart as of 1 June 2020. The materials scientist is the winner of the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize for 2020, and was recently selected as a Young Scientist by the World Economic Forum. He is also a member of the Global Young Academy and has been honored with a number of other accolades. With his research into perovskites, a new type of semiconductor, Prof. Michael Saliba is combining the new technology with conventional silicon technology to create a "solar revolution".

Perovskites, named after the Russian mineralogist Lev Alekseyevich Perovski, are a new type of semiconductor, which have been significantly further developed by Michael Saliba and are considered a great hope for sustainable energy production. They are based on a solution that solidifies to become a semiconductor [A1] with extraordinary properties. They can be painted onto a wall or onto uneven, flexible surfaces as "solar color", where they function as highly-efficient solar cells. Because neither clean rooms nor high temperatures are necessary, solar cells made from perovskites have the potential to be manufactured more cheaply than silicon solar cells in the long run and also find new areas of application. "This means that flexible, lightweight and foldable solar cells can be used in cars, in space travel or in sensors for the Internet of Things", explains Saliba.

Perovskites can also be applied to traditional silicon, which combines the strengths of both types of material. Silicon can convert sunlight in the red and infrared spectrum particularly efficiently, while perovskites are especially good at converting blue light. "If the materials are merged together, i.e. perovskites with silicon, then the efficiency of silicon cells already on the market can be significantly increased. This tandem idea has the potential to usher in a solar revolution", says a confident Saliba.

Saliba wants to expand the research carried out by the Institute of Photovoltaics, which set several records for the efficiency of silicon solar cells under its previous leader Prof. Jürgen Werner, to include these tandem concepts. Perovskites also make it possible to open up the horizons of research to include general optoelectronic applications. As a result, perovskites will also be able to emit light and for example be used in new types of light-emitting diodes. Saliba has previously published papers on new types of cryogenic perovskite detectors, which can be used for the purpose of diagnosis in early cancer screening.

About Prof. Michael Saliba:

Michael Saliba was born in Göppingen in 1983 and studied Mathematics and Physics at the University of Stuttgart. In 2014 at Oxford, he became one of the very first scientists to gain a doctorate in the field of perovskites. He completed his postdoc as a Marie Curie fellow at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. In 2018 Saliba was appointed as a group leader at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, and in 2019 he moved to the Technical University of Darmstadt. Since 1 June 2020 he has been Head of the Institute for Photovoltaik (IVP) at the University of Stuttgart. He succeeded Prof. Jürgen Werner, who retired after having led the institute since 1996.

With more than 100 published articles, Times Higher Education lists Prof. Michael Saliba as the third most influential scientist in his field, and since 2018 he has been named on the ISI Highly Cited list, which honors the top 1 percent of most-cited scientists. The German Research Foundation (DFG) has rewarded Saliba’s work this year with the renowned Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize, in addition to him being chosen in the same year as a Young Scientist by the World Economic Forum. This accolade honors outstanding achievements in research and a commitment to serve society at large. What’s more, Saliba has been also awarded with the Young Scientist Award from the German Association of University Professors and Lecturers, the Postdoctoral Award from the Material Research Society (MRS) and the TR35 from the MIT Technology Review, which honors the leading "35 innovators under the age of 35" worldwide, among others. Michael Saliba is also a member of the Global Young Academy and the Junge Akademie.

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