Hybrid Solar-Energy Harvester: The Nanostructures and Nano-Optoelectronics Characterization

Clean and renewable energy is vital for sustainable development. Solar energy is key to solving energy crises in Africa, and this research team will use nanotechnologies to improve the solar cells which are converting sunlight into electricity. The ultimate goal of this project is to produce cheap, affordable and efficient solar cells.


Energy is vital for sustainable development, but the concern is that the supply of energy is grossly inadequate to support technological growth and development in Nigeria and more generally in sub-Saharan Africa.

Our research project will therefore provide a technological solution to the energy crisis in Nigeria through advanced research in clean and renewable solar energy resources, which are in abundant supply in sub-Saharan Africa. We will fabricate solar cell devices using novel nano-optoelectronic materials. We are interested in the role played by novel nanomaterials and impurities on the performance of hybrid solar cell devices. We will study these nanomaterials using advanced characterization techniques capable of atomic-scale lateral resolution, and near-field nanoscale resolution beyond the diffraction limit of light, among others.

We will introduce additional nanomaterial that can make our solar cells operate at night times, which will eliminate batteries used to store electrical energy. This will reduce costs and make solar energy installation competitive and affordable.

Keywords: Solar Cells, Nanomaterials, Nano-optoelectronics, Nanoscale characterization

Principal investigators

Sabastine Ezugwu

Sabastine Ezugwu is a Physicist who specializes in Experimental Condensed Matter. He has a master’s degree in Solar Energy Physics from the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) and a PhD in Physics from the University of Western Ontario Canada.

From 2017, Sabastine became a staff in the department of Physics and Astronomy, Western University Canada, working as a laboratory supervisor and later as a research associate in nanomaterial fabrication, instrument development and nano-optoelectronics characterization. He has 2 patents and over 40 high profile journal articles with H-Index 15.

Sabastine Ezugwu will resume as a senior lecturer in the department of Physics and Astronomy UNN, effective September 1, 2021.

Anna Fontcuberta i Morral

Anna Fontcuberta i Morral obtained her PhD degree in Materials Science from the École Polytechnique France, in 2001. She continued her research activities at diverse institutions (e.g., California Institute of Technology, Technical University of Munich). In 2008, she joined EPFL as Tenure-Track Assistant Professor at the Institute of Materials. Since 2019, she is a Tenured Full Professor at EPFL. Since January 2021 she is Associate Vicepresident for Centers and Platforms.

Anna’s research activities are centered on the materials science and engineering of novel semiconductormaterials and nanostructures. Among the applications she is interested in are next generation solar cells and quantum computing.

Francesco Stellacci

Francesco Stellacci graduated in Materials Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano in 1998 with a thesis on photochromic polymers with Prof. Giuseppe Zerbi and Mariacarla Gallazzi. In 1999 he moved to the Chemistry Department of the University of Arizona for as a post-doc in the group of Joe Perry in close collaboration with the group of Seth Marder. In 2002 he moved to the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the MIT as an assistant professor. He was then promoted to associate without (2006) and with tenure (2009). In 2010 he moved to the Institute of Materials at EPFL as a full Professor.

Francesco was one of the recipients of the Technology Review TR35 award in 2005, and the Popular Science Magazine “Brilliant 10” award in 2007. He has been a Packard Fellow starting 2005.