Building research capacity in solar photovoltaic technology


What is SPARC II?

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

The purpose of the operation was to build research capacity in solar photovoltaic research. The ERDF support ensured that the SPARC II team could attract substantial competitive research funding enabling new research partnerships for ground breaking research and leading to effective technology transfer in the future. The research sought to add value solutions to technology challenges and provide new manufacturing and supply opportunities for Welsh industry.

The operation ran from April 2016 until March 2023 and was successful in achieving its key outputs, as detailed in the table below.

Cumulative Outputs (2016-2023)

IndicatorSO1.1 definitionTargetAchieved
Indicator 3000 Number of improved infrastructure facilities 1 1
Indicator 3001 Number of researchers working in improved research infrastructure facilities 40 43
Indicator 3026 Number of new researchers in supported entities 28 34
Indicator 3002 Amount of research funding secured £11,000,000 £17,066,760
Indicator 3010 Number of enterprises cooperating in a research project 206 97

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
  • Professor Stuart Irvine gave a keynote talk at the TCM2022 conference “Transparent conducting materials: the key to future advancements in CdTe solar cells”.
  • SPARC II Director Prof. Stuart Irvine featured in a Business News Wales interview answering the question; can Wales become a leader in solar technology?
  • SPARC II research has been featured in PV Magazine. The article picks up on a very recent journal publication by the SPARC II research team at Swansea University. Our thin film cadmium telluride solar cell space experiment has now been in orbit on the AlSat-1N CubeSat for over 4 ½ years. It is still sending data back giving us valuable insight into its performance in the space environment.
  • 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.
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