Solar and geothermal energy is abundantly available. The energy reaching the earth surface is more than enough to cover all our energy demands. Nevertheless, it has to be harvested, converted, stored and transported to be available for the consumer.
Photovoltaic and thermoelectric devices can convert the solar energy directly into electricity. The electricity can be used to produce hydrogen by electrolysis in a se-cond separate step. Hydrogen can also be produced directly from sunlight by water photoelectrolysis. Here a semiconductor material absorbs solar energy and uses it to drive water reduction. Hydrogen can be used to fuel a fuel cell to deliver electricity when needed.
The specific research topics on energy converters materials and technologies covering all aspects from basic research to device manufacturing at Empa are:
Photovoltaics Frank Nueesch, Ayoda Tiwari
Conversion of radiation energy into electricity by high performance solar cells
Materials: nanocomposites, organic semiconductors, thin films.