Building research capacity in solar photovoltaic technology


What is SPARC II?

The purpose of this research funding is to build research capacity in solar photovoltaic research, to ensure that the SPARC II team can attract substantial competitive research funding that will enable new research partnerships for ground breaking research and lead to effective technology transfer in the future The research will seek added value solutions to these technology challenges that will provide new manufacturing and supply opportunities for Welsh industry.

SPARC II is a SO1.1 Operation funded by the Welsh European Funding Office with the beneficiaries comprising of Swansea, Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities.

The operation is led by Swansea University and will run until March 2023.

Professor Stuart Irvine, SPARC II Director


"SPARC II will create added value through a world leading research network that together provides the range of skills for making a new generation of PV technology a reality."

Latest News
  • We are pleased to announce that the SPARC II project funding, by the European Regional Development Fund, has been extended until March 2023. This extension will enable the team to continue to expand the PV research capacity and to take on new challenges such as solar charging for electric vehicles, powering of remote sensors and a new generation of more efficient solar conversion devices. Find out more.
  • Professor Andy Evans, who leads up Aberystwyth’s SPARC II team, conducted experiments in his garden as part of the National Eisteddfod. His broadcast shows how to make a solar cell using common ingredients from around the house. 
  • OpTIC Centre, N. Wales, 05th March 2020. SPARC II collaborated with The Welsh Optoelectronics Forum, the Centre for Photonics Expertise and ASTUTE 2020 (Advanced Manufacturing) to bring together an event which would showcase real world applications of photonics and where technologies are impacting businesses today.
  • Professor Stuart Irvine has recently had a book published titled 'Metalorganic Vapor Phase Epitaxy (MOVPE): Growth, Materials Properties, and Applications'. Dr Kartopu co-authored a chapter in this book on CdTe.
  • Congratulations to one of the SPARC II research team members, Dr Rosie Anthony who attended the HOPV19 (Hybrid & Organic Photovoltaics) conference in Rome 12th – 15th May and won Best Poster for her work on ‘Surface Engineering of Solid-State Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells’.
  • Professor Stuart Irvine will make the trek to Everest Base Camp at the beginning of March 2019 as part of a Brick Children School charity awareness and fundraising expedition. Not content with a 17 day round trek reaching an altitude of 5150 metres, Stuart will also be conducting some SPARC II experimental research. He’ll be measuring one of the Centre for Solar Energy Research groups thin-film cadmium telluride solar cells on ultrathin glass with the electronics and software provided by the University of Surrey. This data will complement that of the CubeSat mission currently orbiting the earth with an analogous solar cell on board. Watch the video
  • February 2019 CSER’s Dr Giray Kartopu started his new British Council Newton Fund project: Solar Energy Enabled Electricity Generation via High-Performance CZT/Si Tandem Cells. This project is in collaboration with Middle East Technical University, Turkey and will help to revolutionize the PV industry in Turkey by developing a new high efficiency, low-cost tandem photovoltaic (PV) solar cell structure.  
  • The CSER team began research on an Innovate UK project OTHELLO April 18. The project, which includes the Industry lead Palliser Engineers and Polysolar, will use thin film Cadmium Telluride solar panels to capture infrared frequencies, which will then be concentrated to provide energy for heating and cooling. Find out more
  • EPRSC have approved funding of a proposal from Associate Professor Matt Carnie of the Materials Hub. The project entitled Self-Powered Interfaces and Interactions via Photovoltaic Surfaces will run for 3 years in partnership with Swansea University’s Computer Science department.
  • Dr Petar Igic has won Innovate UK funding for the project Compound Semiconductor Magnetic Integrated Circuits (CS-MAGIC).
  • SPARC II research featured in BBC Radio Wales Science Café programme
  • WEFO make SPARC II Operation funding announcement.

The Centre for Solar Energy Research, Swansea University

Professor Stuart Irvine

Dr Dan Lamb

Dr Andrew Clayton

Dr Giray Kartopu

Dr Ochai Oklabia

Mrs Emma Dawson-Parry

Mr Stephen Jones

Mr Peter Siderfin

Ms Carol Venters

Mrs Michelle Davies


Electronic Systems Design Centre, Swansea University

Professor Lijie Li

Dr Nafiseh Badiei

Dr Grazia Todeschini

Dr Saqib Rafique

Dr Han Huang

Physics Department, Aberystwyth University

Professor Andy Evans

Dr Dave Langstaff

Dr Rudi Winter

Dr Chris Finlayson

Dr Rachel Cross

Dr Matt Gunn

Mr Matthew Jevon


Chemistry Engineering Materials Environment Group, Swansea University

Professor Peter Holliman

Dr Chris Kershaw

Dr Antony Lewis

Electronic Engineering, Bangor University

Dr Jeff Kettle

Dr Iestyn Pierce

Dr James Wang

Dr Roger Giddings

Dr Noel Bristow

Mr Tudur Wyn David

Materials Hub, Swansea University

Associate Professor Dr Matt Carnie

Professor Trystan Watson

Dr Adam Pockett

Dr Suzanne Thomas

Dr Becky Bolton

Dr Ralph Hall 


SPARC II Staff papers –

Jiaheng Nie, Yan Zhang, Lijie Li, Jizheng Wang, Piezo-phototronic Effect Enhanced Photodetector Based on MAPbI3 Perovskite, Journal of Materials Chemistry C, Jan 2020. DOI: 10.1039/c9tc05721h

J. Barbe, A. Pockett, V. Stoichkov, D. Hughes, H. K. H. Lee, M. Carnie, T. Watson, and W. C. Tsoi, Insitu investigation of perovskite solar cells' efficiency and stability in a mimic stratospheric environment for high-altitude pseudo-satellites,J. Mater. Chem. C, 2020.

J. Barbe, D. Hughes, Z. Wei, A. Pockett, H. K. H. Lee, K. C. Heasman, M. J. Carnie, T. M. Watson, and W. C. Tsoi, Radiation Hardness of Perovskite Solar Cells Based on Aluminium-Doped Zinc Oxide Electrode under Proton irradiation, Solar Rapid Research Letters, vol. 26, no. 7, pp. 1129-1134, 2019.

M. R. Burton, S. Mehraban, D. Beynon, J. McGettrick, T. Watson, N. P. Lavery, and M. J. Carnie, 3D Printed SnSe Thermoelectric Generators with High Figure of Merit, Advanced Energy Materials, p. 1 900 201, 2019.

M. R. Burton, S. Mehraban, J. McGettrick, T. Watson, N. P. Lavery, and M. J. Carnie, Earth abundant, non-toxic, 3D printed Cu2􀀀xS with high thermoelectric figure of merit, J. Mater. Chem. A, vol. 7, pp. 25 586-25 592, 44 2019.

H. K. H. Lee, J. Barbe, S. M. P. Meroni, T. Du, C.-T. Lin, A. Pockett, J. Troughton, S. M. Jain, F. De Rossi, J. Baker, et al., Outstanding Indoor Performance of Perovskite Photovoltaic Cells Effect of Device Architectures and Interlayers, Solar Rapid Research Letters, vol. 3, no. 1, p. 1 800 207, 2019.

Pockett, H. K. H. Lee, B. L. Coles, W. C. Tsoi, and M. J. Carnie, A combined transient photovoltage and impedance spectroscopy approach for a comprehensive study of interlayer degradation in non-fullerene acceptor organic solar cells, Nanoscale, 2019.

Y. Yan, Y. Wei, C. Zhao, M. Shi, L. Chen, C. Fan, M. J. Carnie, R. Yang, and Y. Xu, A modified template-removal process to improve the specific surface area and hierarchical porosity of carbon materials, Journal of Solid State Chemistry, vol. 269, pp. 24-29, 2019.

Rafique, Saqib., Roslan, Nur Adilah., Abdullah, Shahino Mah., Li, Lijie., Supangat, Azzuliani., Jilani, Asim. & Iwamoto, Mitsumasa. (2019). UV- ozone treated graphene oxide/ PEDOT:PSS bilayer as a novel hole transport layer in highly efficient and stable organic solar cells. Organic Electronics 66, 32-42.

Deng, Shuo., Zhang, Yan. & Li, Lijie. (2019). Study on electronic and optical properties of the twisted and strained MoS2/PtS2 heterogeneous interface. Applied Surface Science 476, 308-316.

Deng, Shuo., Cai, Xiang., Zhang, Yan. & Li, Lijie. (2019). Enhanced thermoelectric performance of twisted bilayer graphene nanoribbons junction. Carbon

M. R. Burton, T. Liu, J. McGettrick, S. Mehraban, J. Baker, A. Pockett, T. Watson, O. Fenwick, and M. J. Carnie, Thin film tin selenide (SnSe) thermoelectric generators exhibiting ultralow thermal conductivity, Advanced Materials, vol. 30, no. 31, p. 1 801 357, 2018.

M. Li, C. Zhao, Z.-K. Wang, C.-C. Zhang, H. K. H. Lee, A. Pockett, J. Barbe, W. C. Tsoi, Y.-G. Yang, M. J. Carnie, et al., Interface modification by ionic liquid: a promising candidate for indoor light harvesting and stability improvement of planar perovskite solar cells, Advanced Energy Materials, vol. 8, no. 24, p. 1 801 509, 2018.

S. M. P. Meroni, Y. Mouhamad, F. D. Rossi, A. Pockett, J. Baker, R. Escalante, J. Searle, M. J. Carnie, E. Jewell, G. Oskam, and T. M. Watson, Homogeneous and highly controlled deposition of low viscosity links and application on fully printable perovskite solar cells, Science and  Technology of Advanced Materials, vol. 19, no. 1, 2018.

Z. Wei, C. M. Fung, A. Pockett, T. O. Dunlop, J. D. McGettrick, P. J. Heard, O. J. Guy, M. J. Carnie, J. H. Sullivan, and T. M. Watson, Engineering of a Mo/Si x N y Diffusion Barrier to Reduce the Formation of MoS2 in Cu2ZnSnS4 Thin Film Solar Cells, ACS Applied Energy Materials, vol. 1, no. 6, pp. 2749-2757, 2018.

Stoichkov, V., Kumar, D., Tyagi, P. and Kettle, J., 2018. Multistress Testing of OPV Modules for Accurate Predictive Aging and Reliability PredictionsIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics, (99), pp.1-8.

Bristow, N. and Kettle, J., 2018. Outdoor organic photovoltaic module characteristics: Benchmarking against other PV technologies for performance, calculation of Ross coefficient and outdoor stability monitoringSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells175, pp.52-59.

G Kartopu, D Turkay, C Ozcan, W Hadibrata, P Aurang, S Yerci, HE Unalan, V Barrioz, Y Qu, L Bowen, AK Gürlek, P Maiello, R Turan, SJC Irvine “Photovoltaic performance of CdS/CdTe junctions on ZnO nanorod arrays”, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, Vol 176 (2018) 100-108

Fernandes, R.V., Urbano, A., Duarte, J.L., Bristow, N., Kettle, J. and Laureto, E., 2018. Tuning the optical properties of luminescent down shifting layers based on organic dyes to increase the efficiency and lifetime of P3HT: PCBM photovoltaic devicesJournal of Luminescence

Stoichkov, V., Bristow, N., Troughton, J., De Rossi, F., Watson, T.M. and Kettle, J., 2018. Outdoor performance monitoring of perovskite solar cell mini-modules: Diurnal performance, observance of reversible degradation and variation with climatic performanceSolar Energy170, pp.549-556.

Melvin, A.A., Stoichkov, V.D., Kettle, J., Mogilyansky, D., Katz, E.A. and Visoly-Fisher, I., 2018. Lead iodide as a buffer layer in UV-induced degradation of CH 3 NH 3 PbI 3 filmsSolar Energy159, pp.794-799.

Hughes, L., Bristow, N., Korochkina, T., Sanchez, P., Gomez, D., Kettle, J. and Gethin, D., 2018. Assessing the potential of steel as a substrate for building integrated photovoltaic applicationsApplied Energy229, pp.209-223.

Gongwei Hu, Y Zhang, L Li, ZL Wang, “Piezotronic Transistor Based on Topological Insulators”, ACS Nano, vol. 12, no. 1, 2018, pp. 779-785. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.7b07996

L Jin, X Yan, X Wang, W Hu, Y Zhang and L Li, “Dynamic model for piezotronic and piezo-phototronic devices under low and high frequency external compressive stresses", Journal of Applied Physics, vol. 123, p. 025709, 2018. (featured) DOI: 10.1063/1.5009485

Y. Zhang, J. Nie, and L. Li “Piezotronic effect on the luminescence of quantum dots for micro/nano-newton force measurement” Nano Research, (2017) pp.1-10

Pockett and M. J. Carnie, Ionic influences on recombination in perovskite solar cells, ACS Energy Letters, vol. 2, no. 7, pp. 1683-1689, 2017.

L. Furnell,P. Holliman, A. Connell, E. W. Jones, R. Hobbs,C. P. Kershaw, R. Anthony, J. Searle, T. Watson and J. McGettrick “Digital Imaging to Simultaneously Study Device Lifetimes of Multiple Dye-sensitized Solar Cells” Sustainable Energy & Fuels, Vol 1, (2017) pp.362 – 370

P. Capper, S. J. C. Irvine, T. Joyce “Epitaxial Crystal Growth: Methods and Materials” Springer Handbook of Electronic and Photonic Materials, (2017)

A. Amirkhalili, V. Barrioz, S. J. C. Irvine, N. S. Beattie, G. Zoppi “A combined Na and Cl treatment to promote grain growth in MOCVD grown CdTe thin films” Journal of Alloys and Compounds, Vol 699, (2017) pp.969 - 975

R. A. Belisle, W. H. Nguyen, A. R. Bowring, P. Calado, X. Li, S. J. C. Irvine, M. D. McGehee, P. R. F. Barnes and B. C. O'Regan “Interpretation of inverted photocurrent transients in organic lead halide perovskite solar cells: proof of the field screening by mobile ions and determination of the space charge layer widths” Energy & Environmental Science, Vol 10, (2017) pp.192 - 204

A. J. Clayton, M. A. Baker, S. Babar, R. Grilli, P. N. Gibson, G. Kartopu, D. A. Lamb, V. Barrioz, S. J. C. Irvine “Effects of Cd 1-x Zn x S alloy composition and post-deposition air anneal on ultra-thin CdTe solar cells produced by MOCVD” Materials Chemistry and Physics, Vol 192, (2017) pp.244 – 252

D. A. Lamb, C. I. Underwood, V. Barrioz, R. Gwilliam, J. Hall, M. A. Baker, S. J. C. Irvine Proton irradiation of CdTe thin film photovoltaics deposited on cerium‐doped space glass” Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, (2017)

J. Kettle, V. Stoichkov, D. Kumar, M. Corazza, S. A. Gevorgyan, F. C. Krebs “Using ISOS consensus test protocols for development of quantitative life test models in ageing of organic solar cells” Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, Vol 167, (2017) pp.53 - 59

D. Kumar, V. Stoichkov, S. Ghosh, G. C. Smith, J. Kettle “Mixed-dimension silver nanowires for solution-processed, flexible, transparent and conducting electrodes with improved optical and physical properties” Flexible and Printed Electronics, Vol 2, Issue: 1, (2017) pp. 15005

D. A. Lamb, S. J. C. Irvine, A. J. Clayton, G. Kartopu, V. Barrioz, S. D. Hodgson, M. A. Baker, R. Grilli, J. Hall, C. I. Underwood, and R. Kimber “ Characterization of MOCVD Thin-Film CdTe Photovoltaics on Space-Qualified Cover Glass” IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics, Vol 6, Issue: 2, (2016) pp.557 – 561

S.M. Abdalhadi, A. Connell, X. Zhang, A. A. Wiles, M. L. Davies, P. J. Holliman, G. Cooke “Convenient synthesis of EDOT-based dyes by CH-activation and their application as dyes in dye-sensitized solar cells” J. Mater. Chem. A, Vol 4, (2016), pp.15655 - 15661

Z. Ding, V. Stoichkov, M. Horie, E. Brousseau, J. Kettle “Spray coated silver nanowires as transparent electrodes in OPVs for Building Integrated Photovoltaics applications” Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, Vol 157, (2016) pp.305 – 311

J. Kettle, N. Bristow, D. T. Gethin, Z. Tehrani, O. Moudam, B. Li, E. A. Katz, G.A. dos Reis Benatto, F. C. Krebs, “Printable luminescent down shifter for enhancing efficiency and stability of organic photovoltaics” Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, Vol 144, (2016) pp. 481 – 487

R. V. Fernandes, N. Bristow, V. Stoichkov, H. S. Anizelli, D. Scapin, L. José, E. Laureto, J. Kettle, “Development of multidye UV filters for OPVs using luminescent materials” Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, Vol 50, Issue: 2, (2016) pp.25103

J. Kettle, Z. Ding, M. Horie, G.C. Smith, “XPS analysis of the chemical degradation of PTB7 polymers for organic photovoltaics” Organic Electronics, Vol 39, (2016) pp.222 – 228

J. Kettle, H. Waters, M. Horie, G. C. Smith, “Alternative selection of processing additives to enhance the lifetime of OPVs” Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, Vol 49, Issue: 8, (2016) pp.85601

Z. Ding, J. Kettle, M. Horie, S. W. Chang, G. C. Smith, A. I. Shames, E. A. Katz “Efficient solar cells are more stable: the impact of polymer molecular weight on performance of organic photovoltaics” Journal of Materials Chemistry A, Vol 4, Issue: 19, (2016) pp.7274 - 7280

James D.McGettrick, Katherine Hooper, Adam Pockett, Jenny Baker, Joel Troughton, Matthew Carnie, Trystan Watson, Sources of Pb(0) artefacts during XPS analysis of lead halide perovskites, Materials Letters, Volume 251, 15 September 2019, Pages 98-101

Adam Pockett, Dimitrios Raptis, Simone M. P. Meroni, Jenny Baker, Trystan Watson, Matthew Carnie, Origin of Exceptionally Slow Light Soaking Effect in Mesoporous Carbon Perovskite Solar Cells with AVA Additive, J. Phys. Chem. C2019, 123, 18, 11414-11421

Phil Calado, Dan Burkitt, Jizhong Yao, Joel Troughton, Trystan M. Watson, Matt J. Carnie, Andrew M. Telford, Brian C. O’Regan, Jenny Nelson, and Piers R.F. Barnes, Identifying Dominant Recombination Mechanisms in Perovskite Solar Cells by Measuring the Transient Ideality Factor, Phys. Rev. Applied, 11, 044005 – Published 2 April 2019

Benjamin Smith, Joel Troughton, Anthony Lewis, James McGettrick, Adam Pockett, Matthew Carnie, Cecile Charbonneau, Cameron Pleydell‐Pearce, Justin Searle, Paul Warren, Su Varma, Trystan Watson, Mass Manufactured Glass Substrates Incorporating Prefabricated Electron Transport Layers for Perovskite Solar Cells, Advanced Materials Interfaces, Vol 6, Issue 6, 2019, 1801773

C. Teloeken, D. A. Lamb, T. O. Dunlop and S.J.C. Irvine, Effect of bending test on the performance of CdTe solar cells on flexible ultra-thin glass produced by MOCVD, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 211, (2020) 110552

O. Oklobia, G. Kartopu and S. J. C. Irvine, CdCl2 Activation of the ZnTe:As Back Contact Layer in CdTe Thin Film Solar Cells, Employing a CdS Sacrificial Layer, (2019) IEEE 46th Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC), Chicago, IL, USA, 2019, pp. 0165-0168, doi: 10.1109/PVSC40753.2019.8980552.

G Kartopu et. al., Study of thin film poly-crystalline CdTe solar cells presenting high acceptor concentrations achieved by in-situ arsenic doping, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells (2019) 194 pp259-267

G. Kartopu et. al. Enhancement of the photocurrent and efficiency of CdTe solar cells suppressing the front contact reflection using a highly-resistive ZnO buffer layer, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, Volume 191,(2019), pp78-82,

SPARC II Research

The SPARC II research goals have been incorporated into a work package structure to ensure that SPARC II will be building on the research expertise of the six participating teams to provide added value to this ERDF investment. The 6 Research Centres will work under multiple work package sub-headings identified as tasks.

Research Centre


Research Expertise



Thin film PV materials and chemical vapour deposition for coating with inorganic materials, innovative module design, encapsulation and ultra-light-weight modules.



Smart power electronics for more efficient extraction of power under different light conditions.

Materials Hub


Advanced characterisation of organic and inorganic PV cells to gain new insights to improvements in PV efficiency and long term stability.



Advanced materials characterisation using bespoke cluster tools incorporating real-time X-ray and optical methods to give new insights to the physics of PV devices and explore in-line monitoring techniques for PV module fabrication.



Synthesis of new PV materials and fabrication into new devices and modules

Electronic Engineering


Accelerated lifetime testing and failure mechanisms in new PV devices and modules, improve long term energy generation from PV.


Work Package



Research in new PV materials to achieve long term sustainability, non-toxic and potential for high performance


Innovative PV module fabrication to include ultra-light-weight modules, flexible PV modules, potential for architectural integration


Lifetime and environmental testing of encapsulated PV modules to establish potential for robustness


Smart Power electronics for PV applications


Advanced materials thin-film coating techniques: fundamental understanding to laboratory realisation

Research Projects Contact Us

Dr Dan Lamb
SPARC II Project Manager

Centre for Solar Energy Research
College of Engineering,
Swansea University,
OpTIC Centre, Ffordd William Morgan,
St. Asaph Business Park, LL17 0JD

Tel:  (01745) 535238