School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Elizabeth Gibson

Reader in Energy Materials

Background

I took up a lectureship at Newcastle in September 2014 and was promoted to Reader in 2018. Previously, I was awarded a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship and a University of Nottingham Anne McLaren Research Fellowship 2010, having spent 3 years as a post-doc at the Centre for Molecular Devices, Uppsala University, Sweden, developing dye-sensitized solar cells. I completed my PhD in 2007 at the University of York, supervised by Robin Perutz FRS and Anne-Kathrin Duhme-Klair. Research in my group focuses on solar cell and solar fuel devices that function at a molecular level and challenge the conventional solid-state photovoltaic technologies. We specialise in dye-sensitized nanostructured NiO electrodes, which are less well understood than conventional TiO2 devices pioneered by Grätzel, but when coupled with TiO2 give very promising tandem dye-sensitized solar cells.  Our activities span from fundamental science and physical chemical characterisation of these complex molecular systems to development of new material components such as nanostructured photoelectrodes, dyes and electrolytes and we are producing interesting results.

ORCID 0000-0002-6032-343X

ResearcherID G-8699-2014




Research

Research in the Gibson group focuses on dye-sensitized photocathodes which offer new opportunities for converting sunlight into storable energy cheaply and sustainably. We are developing dye-sensitized NiO cathodes for use in tandem dye-sensitized solar cells and for the photo-reduction of carbon dioxide or water to high energy products (solar fuels). Despite the infancy and complexity of this research area, we have brought about a number of exciting developments which have improved our understanding of the system and allowed us to substantially improve the photoconversion efficiency. Addressing the main limitations to p-type dye-sensitized solar cells, by improving the quality of the NiO electrodes, substituting the conventional triiodide/iodide electrolyte for more suitable alternatives and engineering new dyes specifically for the p-type system, has enabled us to substantially increase the efficiency of the device. We are now developing this idea further using the lessons we have learnt from solar cells, to address the issue of solar fuel production. Here, the kinetic balance is even more critical and so we are simultaneously developing new methods to monitor the charge-transfer rates under conditions which are as close as possible to working devices. A particular challenge lies in slowing down charge recombination between the photoreduced dye and the oxidised NiO so that chemistry can take place.

Our ERC-funded project is enabling us to go beyond what we can achieve with NiO. Find out more here:

https://research.ncl.ac.uk/p-type/


Teaching

Research Publicity and Outreach

In addition to academic achievements I feel it is important to publicise my solar energy research to the public through a variety of activities. Recently I was filmed being interviewed in my laboratory as part of the Royal Society 350 Years of Scientific Publishing, “Science Stories”, which will be promoted in March 2015.  I have completed a course in Public Engagement from the Royal Society in October 2014. My group and I take part in regular science fairs including the RSC Big Bang and the Royal Society Summer Exhibition. I lead workshops with local primary and secondary schools and science learning centres and was the Guest Speaker at the Year 12 Higher Education evening, Loughborough High School, (04/ 2011 and 04/2012) to promote STEM subjects to female school leavers.  I was Science Week Guest Speaker, Bournemouth Natural Science Society, (03/2012), Guest Expert, University Radio Nottingham Science Show, (02/2012), Guest Speaker, ‘Celebrating Women in STEM'  Nottingham University (01/2012) and a Campaign Showcase, ‘Impact: The Nottingham Campaign’ launch day (10/2011).

Publications