Position Type:

  • Lassonde Undergraduate Research Award- summer research
  • NSERC USRA

Position Title:  Research Assistant/summer researcher

Location:  Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence

Professor: Paul O’Brien

Department: Mechanical Engineering

Contact for Professor (Email, phone): paul.obrien@lassonde.yorku.ca

# of positions available: 1

Project Description:

Electric power generated from photovoltaic (PV) cells will play a key role in meeting future renewable energy demands as its installed-cost has already been reduced to ~$1/W. However, photovoltaic farms increase competition for land space that is required for agricultural production. Competition for land can be reduced through agrivoltaics, whereby land is co-developed for both PV energy production and agriculture. Crop production only uses a portion of the available solar irradiance, referred to as photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), and a substantial portion of the solar irradiance is inactive towards photosynthesis (e.g. non-PAR). The objective of this project is to partition the solar irradiance into its PAR and non-PAR components to produce crops and electric power, respectively. This is to be achieved using luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs).  Flat-panel LSCs will be made from a transparent material impregnated with fluorescent dye molecules that absorb non-PAR. PAR will be transmitted through the LSC to underlying crops while non-PAR will be absorbed and re-emit towards PV cells at the LSC sidewalls. Numerical simulations will be performed to predict which combination of commercially available PV cells and luminescent dye(s) should be used to fabricate LSCs that will have the greatest economic potential. In general, the economic potential of the LSC will depend on (1) which crops are selected to be grown (2) the absorption spectra and luminescence efficiency of the dye(s) in the LSC, and (3) the spectral efficiency of the PV cells at the LSC sidewalls.

Duties and Responsibilities of the student:

Project duties include assisting with (1) the design and installation of an inexpensive solar simulator made using metal halide bulbs, (2) a literature review about crops (and their PAR spectra), PV cells, and fluorescent dyes that should be considered in designing the LSC, and (3) the fabrication and characterization of the LSC;  characterization will primarily involve performing transmission measurements and possibly some SEM imaging. 

Skills and Qualifications:

Technical Skills: Machin shop skills and laboratory experience are an asset.

Interpersonal Skills: Motivated, strong communication skills, team member.

Other Assets: Experience with labview, background knowledge in optics. 

Degrees, courses and Disciplines prerequisite*:

 Applicants from any engineering discipline may apply (training will be provided)

Stipend : TBD

Willing to host external students?  Yes

Duration:  16 weeks minimum

Start Date:  05/01/2018 (estimated)

End Date:  08/31/2018 (estimated)

If you interested in this research project, please contact Paul O'Brien at paul.obrien@lassonde.yorku.ca.