Prof Zhiyong Fan, Electronic and Computer Engineering, and his research team have developed new flexible nanostructures for thin film solar cells, which can significantly improve energy conversion efficiency and lead to the manufacturing of solar panels that are lighter, more efficient, and versatile.
The breakthrough technology can supply power for portable electronic devices and generate electricity for large-scale photovoltaic plants, lowering costs by more than 65%. This is significant as solar photovoltaic technology currently suffers from high-cost energy conversion and relatively low efficiency despite being one of the most important clean energy technologies today.
The commercial potential of Prof Fan's technology was highlighted when it became the subject of a winning student entrepreneurship competition entry by a School of Business and Management MBA team. The Solaris student team of three worked closely with Prof Fan and his researchers to develop a business plan that would turn the invention into a thriving enterprise and widen solar energy use in society. The team went on to win the CEIBS-Beijing Benz INNOVATEChina 2013 Entrepreneurship Challenge in March.
The following month, Prof Fan's technology helped Solaris to secure the Best Trade Show Award in the New Venture Championship at the University of Oregon. The team was also awarded the first prize and elevator pitch prize in the HKUST 2013 One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition, held in May.