Crystalline silicon photovoltaics, recombination and transport in semiconductors, surface passivation and passivating contacts, fabrication and characterisation of thin-film nanolayers for semiconductor applications, atomic layer deposition
Dr Black’s research aims to contribute to addressing climate change by reducing the cost of solar photovoltaic energy, now the most rapidly growing form of electricity generation worldwide, particularly through improvements to the performance of solar panels based on commercially relevant crystalline silicon and silicon-based tandem technologies. His current research interests focus on the application of novel nanolayer materials and atomic-scale processing to engineer the electrical properties of surfaces and interfaces in photovoltaic devices, particularly via the atomic layer deposition technique. Such surfaces and interfaces are increasingly critical for the performance of high-efficiency photovoltaic devices. His broader interests span the physics, characterisation, and modelling of bulk and surface recombination processes in semiconductors; the development of novel materials and structures for passivation and contacting of semiconductors including silicon, germanium, III-V, and perovskites; and the fabrication and characterisation of high-efficiency silicon and silicon-based tandem solar cells.
Dr. Black joined the School of Engineering at The Australian National University as a Research Fellow in 2018. He was previously employed as a Postdoctoral Researcher with the Department of Applied Physics at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, where he worked on the application of novel thin-film materials prepared by atomic layer deposition to III-V semiconductor nanowires and crystalline silicon solar cells. He obtained his PhD from the ANU in 2015, with a thesis focused on the surface passivation of crystalline silicon for photovoltaic applications. He has also spent time at the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) and the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (imec) in Belgium.
Activities & Awards
Dr Black’s PhD thesis was awarded the Annual Solar Thesis Prize and nominated for the J.G. Crawford Prize for best PhD thesis in the area of Science, Medicine, and Engineering. His work has four times been selected as being amongst the top 20 contributions to the International Conference on Silicon Photovoltaics, based on blind peer review. He regularly contributes as a guest lecturer to courses including ENGN4524 Photovoltaic Technologies and ENGN3516 Sustainable Energy Systems. Dr Black has been awarded total competitive grant funding of > $8M. He collaborates extensively with Australian and international industry and institutional partners.
Selected Grants and Projects:
- 2022: Chief Investigator, “High-throughput inspection methods for high-efficiency multijunction solar cells”, ARENA, $2.73M
- 2021: Lead Chief Investigator, “UHV Kelvin probe with ambient-pressure photoemission spectroscopy”, ACAP, $423k
- 2020: Lead Chief Investigator, “Advanced multifunctional dielectric layers enabling simplified production of high-efficiency silicon solar cells”, ARENA, $546k
- 2020: Chief Investigator, “Monolithic Si/perovskite tandem solar cell: advanced designs towards high-efficiency at low cost”, ARENA, $1.35M
- 2020: Chief Investigator, “Next-generation Si and tandem hetero-contact laboratory”, ACAP, $3.13M