SET for success

13 August 2010

Steffi Sesuraj is one of three student finalists for the ARM Award for Best Electronic Engineering Student; a category of the European SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) Student of the Year Awards 2010

A student who graduated with First Class Honours this summer has been short-listed for the title of Best Electronic Engineering Student in Europe.

Steffi Sesuraj (pictured) is one of three student finalists for the ARM Award for Best Electronic Engineering Student; a category of the European SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) Student of the Year Awards 2010.

Sesuraj was nominated by her supervisor, Professor Darren Bagnall, of the Nano Research Group in the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science. She was put forward on the basis of her performance on the BEng Electronic Engineering course, but especially for her third-year project on the development of more efficient solar cells: ‘Design, Fabrication and Characterisation of a Nano-Plasmonic back reflector for a-Si Thin Film Solar Cells’.

According to Professor Bagnall, his student’s experimental work has demonstrated for the first time that plasmonic arrays of metal nanoparticles can be used to significantly improve the performance of solar cells.

"Researchers have been attracted to the idea of using metal nanoparticles to provide ‘plasmonic solar cells’ for around six years," says Professor Bagnall. "Now, as a result of Steffi’s detailed and innovative work we are now much better placed to demonstrating working plasmonic solar cells. This is a considerable achievement since it has provided a new method for how the cells should be constructed."

She will now continue to develop this project in her doctoral research, using the technology in Southampton Nanofabrication Centre. Her aim will be to use nanotechnology to engineer a design for thinner, and more cost-effective, solar cells that maintain high efficiency.

"Working on developing a Nano-Plasmonic Back Reflector was definitely an exciting venture for me,” says Sesuraj, adding: “The field of plasmonic application for solar cells has demonstrated that nanotechnology is no longer a ‘thing of the future’– it has the potential to be implemented in the present, on a large-scale basis. This project was a wonderful opportunity to work with the ECS Nano Research Group. Its members are very talented and friendly and made me feel part of the group. I definitely got a lot out of the project in terms of scientific knowledge and research skills. The enthusiasm that I’ve developed for plasmonics applications and nanotechnology in general has motivated me to continue with a PhD in this area, at the Nano Group, under Professor Bagnall, and my co-supervisor Dr. Chong.”

The SET European Awards will be presented at a ceremony before an audience comprising of hundreds of technology students, academics, senior industry executives; as well as senior figures from government, scientific and technical institutions and the media, which takes place in September at the London Hilton.


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