Small Australian technology powering China’s renewable green revolution

Media releases, nanophotonics

World’s largest solar cell maker speaks in Melbourne

AUSTRALIAN solar technology leads the international industry, Dr Shi Zhengrong will tell a plenary session of the Nanophotonics Down Under 2009 Devices and Applications Conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre on Monday.

He should know. He has built the world’s largest solar cell company, China’s Suntech, based on Australian expertise. And he’s about to go further, having recently signed an agreement with Swinburne University of Technology to commercialise super high efficiency technology based on plasmonics, the study of surface waves of electrons.

“Basically, Suntech is a commercialisation company for Australian technology,” he says. “In the whole industry there are only two companies that produce high efficiency photovoltaic cells, SunPower of the US based on technology developed at Stanford, and Suntech which commercialised technology from the University of New South Wales. And in terms of efficiency per cost, Suntech is far ahead of SunPower.”

Already, he says, Suntech is producing solar cells which average more than 17 per cent efficiency, and it can now has a line which produces cells of more than 20 per cent efficiency. The new plasmonic technology will take this up to well over 30 per cent, he says.

His entrepreneurship has made him one of the richest men in China. But it all started in 1989, when he began his PhD at UNSW. Prof Martin Green, the man who has driven UNSW’s world-leading photovoltaic research program, will be giving a public lecture entitled Solar Energy for a Sustainable Future at the Melbourne Convention Centre on Sunday at 11 am.

He thinks that within the next decade or so new nano-materials will provide increased scope to produce high-efficiency thin-film solar panels at the lowest possible cost. And with the right policies, he believes, the majority of the world’s energy will come from the Sun by the end of the century.

Nanophotonics Down Under 2009 Devices and Applications brings together leading international specialists to identify key challenges in the emerging applications of nanophotonics. There are 37 invited speakers and 83 contributed papers from 18 countries representing every aspect of nanophotonics and its applications.

Nanophotonics Down Under 2009 Devices and Applications runs from Sunday 22 June to Wednesday 24 June at the Melbourne Convention Centre. It is one of the Sir Mark Oliphant series of conferences on the International Frontiers of Science and Technology funded by the Australian Government and managed by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and the Australian Academy of Science.

Other major sponsors include the Swinburne University of Technology and the Australian Research Council’s Nanotechnology Network.

For further information, contact Meg Caffin for ATSE, 03 9864 0909, 0413 949 641,

Or Margie Beilharz for Science in Public: 03 9398-1416, 0415 448-065,

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