Professor Thorsten Trupke of the University of New South Wales has been declared the 2021 recipient of the IEEE William Cherry Award, which recognises outstanding contributions to photovoltaic science and technology by an individual who has devoted part of their professional life to the field.

Trupke is regarded as the world’s leading semiconductor scientist and carries out his work at the UNSW’s School of Photovoltaic & Renewable Energy Engineering. The Professor invented photoluminescence (PL) imaging, a world-first technology that can identify hidden faults and defects affecting the performance of solar cells and silicon wafers. The technology is now a standard method used in all PV research laboratories and solar cell factories worldwide, and has allowed for further competitiveness of the solar industry, as it is central to research and development practices within the industry.

Trupke says to follow in the footsteps of Martin Green, a UNSW Professor dubbed ‘the father of photovoltaics’, and fellow recipient of the award, is truly an honour.

“I remember being in Martin Green's office when I first met him and admiring his Cherry Award plaque. The fact that I’m the 2021 recipient has not fully sunk in yet,” he says.

“This recognition is a credit to everyone who has contributed to our work on luminescence characterisation over many years, in particular my outstanding research team at UNSW and my colleagues at BT Imaging.

"There is still so much work to be done. Solar energy will become the dominant source of electricity and of all primary energy over the next 30 years. Contributing to this massive transition away from fossil fuels is very exciting and fulfilling.”

UNSW Dean of Engineering Professor Stephen Foster says the work of Trupke throughout his career has ultimately won him the prestigious award.

“The Cherry Award is a remarkable recognition. It’s particularly special as the winner is decided by their technical and scientific peers and, as such, is often regarded as the top research award globally in the solar technology space. I am thrilled that Thorsten, and his dedication and commitment to the field, has been recognised with this extremely well-deserved award.”

The IEEE William Cherry Award is named after the late William R. Cherry, a founder of the photovoltaic community and pioneer of utilising photovoltaic systems within terrestrial applications.

Trupke says he and his team will continue its work on the characterisation and quality control of silicon wafers, solar cells and modules, to help guarantee photovoltaics as a reliable source of energy into the future.

“UNSW, particularly the School of Photovoltaic & Renewable Energy Engineering, has made fundamental and highly impactful contributions to this tech space for over 40 years. With the infrastructure, networks and ecosystem that were established here at UNSW over that timeframe, we really are in an ideal position to continue to carry out cutting edge research, contributing to the biggest revolution of our time. Not least, I am thankful for funding from ARENA, who have been key supporters of our projects for many years."