ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence

The centre originated from a Solar Photovoltaic Group that fabricated its first cell in 1975 in the Integrated Circuits Laboratory within the School of Electrical Engineering. Promising results obtained during 1976 with a novel MIS (metal-insulator-semiconductor) solar cell stimulated the establishment of a dedicated Solar Photovoltaic Laboratory in 1977 in Room 128 of the Electrical Engineering building.

This led to a period of rapid progress where solar cells with very high output voltages and rapidly increasing energy conversion efficiencies were demonstrated. By 1980, the Laboratory had outgrown the space available in Room 128 and moved to the ground floor of the Electrical Engineering building. During the period from 1983 to 1990, cells fabricated within the laboratory became the first silicon cells to exceed the 18%, 19%, 20% and 24% energy conversion efficiency barriers and are now at 25%.

In 1990, the Laboratory combined with the activities of the Power Department in the Electrical Engineering School to form the Special Research Centre for Photovoltaic Devices and Systems with support from the Australian Research Council and from Pacific Power. Prior to completion of this centre’s program at the end of 1999, the ARC Key Centre for Photovoltaic Engineering was formed with responsibility for developing the world’s first undergraduate photovoltaic degree program. This was followed in 2000 by the start of the ARC Special Research Centre for Third Generation Photovoltaics. In 2003, these two centres merged with related research programs to become the ARC Centre of Excellence for Advanced Silicon Photovoltaics and Photonics.

The ARC Centre’s broad aims are to accelerate the development of photovoltaics as a large-scale, sustainable energy source and to maximise Australian involvement with this technology.