2009 Joule medal and prize

Professor Jenny Nelson

Imperial College London

For her penetrating theoretical analyses of a range of photovoltaic materials and devices which have had a profound influence on solar cell design.

Jenny Nelson has made outstanding theoretical contributions to the field of photovoltaics (PV) which have strongly influenced the design and development of a variety of PV devices. Her work has led to solar cell designs that have enhanced the efficiency of solar to electric power conversion and others that could lead to significant cost reductions in the cost of solar cell manufacture. By targeting critical areas of PV technology she has been highly influential both in the UK and overseas.

In her early work she was responsible for developing the theoretical and computational tools for the characterisation and design of the quantum well (QW) solar cell. Her software underpins the commercial development of the QW technology by an Imperial spin-off. As an EPSRC Advanced Fellow she focused on the development of radically lower cost PV materials, addressing an outstanding problem in the emerging dye-sensitised solar cell (DSSC) technology. She demonstrated that electronic disorder in the nanocrystalline TiO2 electrode is a major factor controlling charge transport and recombination dynamics, and helped to show how these processes control device performance.

Since 2000 she has focused on the application of solution processable, organic semiconductors as PV materials. Here she has developed a rational framework to relate charge carrier mobilities in molecular semiconductors to the chemical and physical molecular structure, a critical contribution because mobility limits the efficiency of organic PV devices. Her work has attracted collaborations with leading industrial and academic partners.