The Solar Energy Conversion Cluster is involved in a number of outreach activities from public to primary, second, third and fourth level students and also with industry.

In addition to the activities below, we are also available to give talks and presentations in Secondary Schools, particularly at Transition Level. Should you like more information on this, please contact the Cluster Manager, Dr Sharon Davin at sharon.davin@ucd.ie.

4th - 8th March 2013

Transition Year student Jack Gallagher, St Gerard's School, Bray, joined the Solar Energy Cluster in UCD Dublin as part of his work experience. Jack spent the week with researchers from the Cluster looking at different types of solar cells and ways of storing solar energy by chemical means. He also discovered how we look at materials at the nanoscale level.

Jack also prepared an outreach project and has developed a Solar Energy Timeline... with some interesting solar and solar cell related facts! Jack's presentation can be downloaded here and is suitable for Secondary School students. Click here to view


5th - 9th November 2012

Transition Year student Valentyna Slyusarchuk, Rockford Manor, Dublin spent a week on work experience with the Solar Cluster in the UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering and the UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. During her time here, Valentyna learned about the different types of solar cells, the equipment used to test cells and materials and preparing science communication materials.

"I really enjoyed my time here and I learned a lot." Valentyna.

Valentyna is pictured here with Sinead Kerins (Chief Technical Officer, School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering) testing different dyes and their absorbance on a U.V. spectrophotometer.

Valentyna prepared a poster on the Silicon Solar Cell turning 60 this year. Click here to view


14th July 2012

Cluster PhD, Laura Tobin, manned a stand at the inaugural Dublin Mini Maker Faire, at the Science Gallery and TCD Physics Lawn and part of the Dublin City of Science events for 2012.

Laura represented the Irish OSA and SPIE student chapters, giving a hands-on presentation on all things solar and optical... DSSCs, UV beads, holograms and lasers.

Laura Tobin

 The event was hugely popular with in excess of 6,800 visitors on the day. The Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—

 a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.  

 It’s a place where people show what they are making, and share what they are learning!


26th April 2012

Cluster Workshop, UCD Engineering and Materials Science CentreSolar Fuels Workshop

Solar Fuels: Potential, Opportunities and Challenges

This workshop offered perspectives on the many facets of Solar Fuel  Technologies: introducing the principles behind solar to chemical energy, system modelling and the challenges and opportunities for the application of water splitting and subsequent storage of hydrogen fuel.

The workshop format was through seminars and a final group discussion with  key questions on solar fuels technology. Speakers included:

Solar-to-Chemical Energy: Perspectives on Solar Fuels

Dr Mary Pryce, School of Chemical Science, Dublin City University

Molecular Modelling of Hydrogen Storage

Dr Niall English, School of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering, UCD Dublin

Conductive metal oxide electrodes for electrochemical water splitting

Prof Mike Lyons, School of Chemistry, Trinity College Dublin

Water oxidation catalysis: the essential step for the practical development of solar fuels

Prof Antoni Llobet, Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ), Spain

Aminoboranes – Boom or Bust?

Dr Andrew Phillips, School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, UCD Dublin

17th November 2011

Cluster Workshop, The Arches, NovaUCD

Solar Power: Photovoltaics From Fundamentals to Practice

This workshop offered insights for Cluster members into photovoltaics: from light management, materials for cells and commercial experience in photovoltaic manufacture.

The workshop agenda offered presentations with Q&A, and an afternoon group session working on pertinent questions to the field of photovoltaics. The Cluster sincerely thanks all the workshop speakers for giving of their time and expertise.

Dr Dominic Zerulla, UCD School of Physics   

Nanoscale Photonic Management of 3rd Generation Solar Cells

Dr James Rice, UCD School of Physics         

Photovoltaics and Quantum Dot Nanomaterials

Dr Denis Dowling, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Evaluation of the potential of microwave plasmas as a processing technology in the fabrication of solar cells

Dr David Jeng, R&D Director, SolarPrint         

From R&D toward Commercialisation of DSSC, the Challenges and Opportunities

Mr Laurent Clochard, Chief Technical Officer, Nines Photovoltaics

Etching, texturing and surface decoupling for commercial high efficiency crystalline silicon solar cells   

7th - 11th November 2011

Transition Year Students enjoy their work experience week with the Solar Cluster

Two transition year students, Rachel Doyle and Siobhan Doyle (no relation) spent their work experience week with the Solar Cluster in November. The students from the Presentation Secondary School, Kilkenny enjoyed a varied week of designing information sheets on the Solar Energy, building solar hydrogen cars and learning about photocatalytic water splitting and hydrogen storage in the Schools of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering and Chemistry & Chemical Biology in UCD Dublin.

Transition Year students Rachel Doyle and Siobhan Doyle learn about light driven water splitting for hydrogen fuel production



30th May - 1st June 2011

Summer School in Solar Energy Conversion

The Cluster hosted a Summer School for Postgraduate Researchers in UCD Engineering & Materials Science Centre (30th May - 1st June 2011) in Solar Energy Conversion: The harnessing of solar radiation to generate renewable Electricity & Fuels. Linked with the DRHEA (Dublin Region Higher Education Alliance), the Summer School was accredited for Structured PhD programmes ( UCD CHEM 40630). The School materials covered the problems associated with current methods of generating power and introduced the steps involved in generating electricity and useful fuels using the energy provided by the sun.

The solar electricity section of the school covered Silicon-based, DSSC, QD and organic PV cells and modern methods of photon management and applications. The solar fuels section covered photocatalysis, the production and storage of solar H2 and the collection, reduction and photo-reduction of CO2.

Lecturers: Prof Don MacElroy, UCD School of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering Prof Ravi Thampi, UCD School of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering Dr Dominic Zerulla , UCD School of Physics Prof Han Vos , School of Chemical Sciences, DCU Dr Denis Dowling UCD School of Electronic, Electrical & Mechanical Engineering Prof Martin Albrecht, UCD School of Chemistry & Chemical Biology Dr James Sullivan, UCD School of Chemistry & Chemical Biology 

Within the School, students represented the island of Ireland, from Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, Tyndall National Institute, University of Limerick, Queen's University Belfast, NUI Galway and UCD Dublin, in addition to some students from ISEN, Lille.

The School was very warmly received by the attendees, meeting a key need for our scientists and engineers in solar technology upskilling for the Green economy


Summer School attendees enjoying a well deserved break! Dr James Sullivan (Coordinator) and Profs Don MacElroy (Cluster Director) and K. Ravi Thampi pictured in front and Prof Han Vos in the back row.


4th April 2011

Workshop presenters: (left to right)

Dr Ingmar Bruder, BASF SE; Dr Brian Kelly, CEO and Co-Founder Celtic Catalysts; Professor David O’Reilly, CEO Chevron (retired); Mr Andre Fernon, CFO and Co-Founder SolarPrint; Mr John O’Dea, Manager, HPSU-Industrial, Enterprise Ireland; and Prof Don MacElroy, Director SFI SRC in Solar Energy Conversion

Business Workshop, The Arches, NovaUCD
Start-up and Business Perspectives on Delivering Solar Power and Fuel Technologies:
Global and National Enterprise Experiences

This workshop provided a platform for interaction with academics in Solar and Energy Technologies (primarily with the SFI Strategic Research Cluster) from UCD, DCU, TCD and UL with global and national energy industry members. The focus of this workshop was to examine the direction the energy business is anticipated to take in the coming 25 years. The workshop offered perspectives from the many facets of the Solar Power and Fuel Technology business sector: Global utility, Global R&D, HPSU and development of a spin-out, together with information on the funding tools to get your business off the ground.

This was facilitated by presentations and Q&A sessions. In the afternoon, there was breakout session for all attendees to discuss some pertinent issues around the solar business field. This workshop was also an excellent training tool for our researchers, giving them some excellent insights into potential career development in the industrial field

The Solar Energy Cluster sincerely thank the following for enabling this workshop: INTERREG IVB, NovaUCD and IRU, and special thanks to SFI and our industry partners for their support through the Cluster programme. A huge thank you to our speakers for giving of their precious time and priceless insight into their global and national enterprise experiences.


Professor David O’Reilly, CEO Chevron (retired)   

Business Perspectives on Delivering Renewable Energy to 2030      

Dr Brian Kelly, CEO and Co-Founder Celtic Catalysts, NovaUCD   

From Benchtop to Boardroom:  The journey of a PhD student setting up a company in Ireland   

Mr Andre Fernon, CFO and Co-Founder SolarPrint, Sandyford, Dublin   

Start-ups: the evolutionary process to commercialise and fund renewable technologies   

Dr Ingmar Bruder, BASF SE, Research Scientist - Organic Photovoltaics Ludwigshafen, Germany   

Organic Photovoltaics - An approach for tomorrow's energy supply  

Mr John O’Dea, Manager, HPSU-Industrial, Enterprise Ireland  

So you want to start a clean-tech business; can we help you?


16 December 2010

Visit to St Pius X BNS Primary School

Cluster Manager Sharon Davin paid a trip to St Pius X BNS to Ms Sinead Lally's class to tell them about different types of energy, including solar energy (of course!). The class were in the middle of preparing their exhibition on "Green Town" for the BTYSE Primary Section- a fantastic town that would use many different types of renewable energy! The boys had a fantastic day at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition.  They did really well exhibiting their work and got a glowing report. Congratulations from all of us in the Solar Cluster!

"Sharon Davin from UCD came to tell us about solar energy.  She showed us all new types of energy that energy companies have made. She also made a car run using hydrogen from water.  It was a good demonstration and I learned lots about renewable energy from it."

By Philip Warfield Byrne St Pius X BNS 


Dr Sharon Davin demonstrates the Solar Hydrogen Car!     A glowing report for the boys of St Pius X BNS at their  BTYSE stand with "Green Town"

13th October 2010  Public Lecture

The Present and Future of Photovoltaic Manufacturing

Professor Colin Wolden

SFI E.T.S Walton Fellow,  UCD School of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering, UCD Dublin

Weaver Distinguished Professor, Dept of Chemical Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Wednesday 13th October 2010 at 6.30pm Room 326, Engineering & Materials Science Centre, UCD Dublin, Belfield

Colin Wolden The Present and Future of Photovoltaic Manufacturing

UCD Talk Prof Colin Wolden

22nd June 2010

The International Race to Solar: Who's In It to Win It?

Prof Don MacElroy participated in a V-Panel forum discussion on the big picture with regard to solar technology globally and the perceived race between the US and China to corner the Solar Market

Link to V-Panel Forum

Shift Worldwide

22nd March 2010

Cluster showcases research during ESB Sustainable Energy Week

Prof Don MacElroy delivered a presentation to ESB to mark EU Sustainable Energy Week, hosted in Ireland by the ESB Sustainability Dept, on "Exploring the Potential for Solar Energy in Ireland"

   EU Sustainability Week 2010               

Attending Prof Don MacElroy's presentation to ESB during EU sustainable energy week: (l to r) Cluster members: Prof John Sheridan, Dr Sharon Davin, Prof Don MacElroy, Prof Michael Gilchrist (UCD EMPS VP for Research and Innovation), Mr John Campion, Executive Director of Sustainability, ESB, Mr Fergus Keane, Sustainability ESB and Ms Grainne Keane, UCD EMPS.


4th March 2010   Public Lecture

Nanostructures for solar energy conversion: a photochemist’s viewpoint

Professor James Durrant
Professor of Photochemistry, Imperial College London

Thursday 4th March 2010 Room 326 UCD Engineering and Materials Science Centre
1.00 –2.00 pm

Seminar on Solar Energy Conversion Prof James Durrant
16th January 2010

BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition

UCD researchers met hundreds of visitors on Saturday January 16 at the 2010 BT Young Scientist & Technology exhibition.
The UCD demonstration included the technology of solar revolving planes and the chemistry behind molecular structures.
Solar-powered puppies, planes and hydrogen cars captured the imagination of visitors both young and old at the demonstration by the SFI-funded Solar Energy Conversion Strategic Research Cluster. Dr Sharon Davin, together with Cluster Engineering PhD students Laura Tobin and Amidou Dembele, explained to visitors the technology behind harnessing the free energy of the sun to meet our energy needs.
Dr Davin noted that: “Solar toys are a fun and interactive medium to translate both the technology and the importance of our research in the Solar Energy Cluster”.

BTYSE 2010 Cluster Solar Demonstration

Dr Sharon Davin with PhD student Amidou Dembele at the BTYSE

25th June 2009

Solar Energy and Photo-Responsive Technologies: Industrial Perspectives
UCD Quinn Business School

The Cluster hosted an industrial outreach evening of presentations dedicated to the increasingly important areas of solar and photo-responsive technologies, with national and international speakers. The event was attended by a large audience comprising invited industry, funding agency, academic and cluster personnel in the solar related technologies space.

The keynote presentation was given by UCD graduate Mr Conrad Burke, CEO of Innovalight Inc., a venture capital financed company based in the heart of Silicon Valley focused on bringing high efficiency, low-cost solar modules to the marketplace.

Expanding on the Irish perspective, snapshot talks were given three speakers providing an insight into their products and experience in the PV and photo-responsive technologies market, including: Dr Mazhar Bari CEO, SolarPrint Ltd Mr Edward Duffy, CEO Nines Engineering and Dr David Corr, CEO NTERA.

The evening’s presentations were completed by a view on the Solar and PV sector in Ireland by Enterprise Ireland’s Ms Marina Donohoe, Manager of CleanTech and Paper, Print & Packaging Departments; and Mr George Bennett, Director of Clean Technologies Division, IDA Ireland. Informal discussions were continued after the talks during a poster session from the Solar Cluster research team.

Prof Don MacElroy with Mr Padraic White and Mr George Bennett at teh Solar Energy Technologies Industrial Evening

At the Solar Energy Technologies Industrial Evening, Prof Don MacElroy (right) is pictured with Mr Padraic White (left; former IDA Ireland CEO) and Mr George Bennett (centre, Director of Clean Technologies Division, IDA Ireland)

Keynote Speaker, Mr Conrad Burke (left) CEO of Innovalight Inc., is pictured with Prof Padraig Dunne, UCD School of Physics, at the Industrial Perspectives poster session

May 2009

Irish NMR Meeting

Professor Richard Ernst who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1991) for his methodological developments within nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy was awarded the UCD Ulysses Medal in recognition of his global contribution to science. Professor Ernst delivered a special lecture to the meeting of Irish NMR at the UCD Conway Institute outlining the various contributions to NMR of those who have been honoured by a Nobel Prize and others who may have equally deserved to receive the honour. The Solar Cluster was delighted to be a sponsor of this important meeting.

NMR is a key tool in the Cluster to follow the fixation of carbon dioxide on metal scaffolds and to screen a range of substrates and catalysts for their ability to fix carbon dioxide. This work is progressed by team members, Prof Paul Malthouse, Dr Chandralal Hewage and Aljoscha Wild in conjunction with Drs Grace Morgan and James Sullivan research groups.

UCD President, Dr Hugh Brady presents the Ulysees Medal to Prof Richard Ernst with Irish NMR meeting organiser and Cluster Member, Dr Chandralal Hewage

11th  February 2009

Launch of the Cluster UCD
Conway Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Research

The Cluster officially launched its programme of research, opened by Prof Fionn Murtagh, SFI, to an invited industry, funding bodies and academic audience. Cluster researchers showcased the multidisciplinary programme of research in the Cluster with an extensive poster display. Keynote speakers Mr John Hartnett (CEO) and Dr Kevin Tabor (Director of Science and Research), G24Innovations, Cardiff, Wales, outlined business and research activities in solar technology.

Attending the Cluster Launch (L to R) Prof Declan Gilheany (Co-founder and CSA, Celtic Catalysts Ltd), Dr Mazhar Bari (CEO, SolarPrint Ltd), Dr Hugh Brady (UCD President),

Prof Fionn Murtagh (SFI), Ms Pamela Walsh (Airtricity) and Prof Don MacElroy

Attending the Cluster Launch (L to R) Prof Edmond Magner, Prof Fionn Murtagh (SFI),Dr Hugh Brady (UCD President), Mr John Hartnett (CEO, G24 Innovations),Prof Don MacElroy, Dr Kevin Tabor (G24 Innovations), Prof John Sheridan and Dr Sharon Davin    

12th-16th January 2009

UCD Experience Engineering

40 Transition Year students participated in UCD’s EXPERIENCE ENGINEERING! This ‘hands-on’ event is designed to introduce TY students to the scope and diversity of Engineering disciplines.

Dr Sharon Davin introduced the students to their project theme of Energy. Dr Davin, with the assistance of Cluster PhD Laura Tobin also ran a highly successful lab on the Graetzel cell, where students made their own solar cells. There was a prize for the winning group who had the most efficient cell system.

TY Students get a helping hand from Laura & Sharon

27th January 2009

Alchemist Cafe

Dr Dominic Zerulla, Funded Investigator in the SFI Strategic Research Cluster on Solar Energy Conversion and Senior Lecturer in UCD School of Physics gave a general overview of currently available solar energy conversion devices and their limitations.

Dr Zerulla discussed the next stage technologies and their potential, including the Graetzel Cell. This talk formed part of the Science Gallery Lightwave Festival in conjunction with the Alchemist Café.

Dr Dominic Zerulla with Alchemist Café organiser Dr Brigid Ryan

9th-10th January 2009

BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition

The potential of the sun’s energy and futuristic cars took centre stage in demonstrations by the UCD Science and the SFI -funded Solar Energy Conversion SRC. Dr Sharon Davin, Cluster Manager, explained to visitors the technology behind harnessing solar energy and hydrogen powered cars.

Cluster Funded Investigator Dr Grace Morgan, UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology presented a workshop on Solar Energy entitled “New Ways to Catch Some Rays”. In addition, Dr Dominic Zerulla, Cluster Funded Investigator with the School of Physics was the "Science MC" for the "Globe of Death" attraction during the Exhibition.

Primary school student Seání Williams looking at the hydrogen powered car as part of a demonstration from the UCD SFI-funded Solar Energy Conversion Research Cluster
5th January 2009

Irish Times Innovation Magazine

Cluster Director, Prof Don MacElroy featured in an article entitled “Sunworshippers” which outlines the Cluster programme and highlights the potential for Ireland to be at the forefront of solar energy conversion research.

Dr Mahfujur Rahman and Prof Don MacElroy test a constructed photoelectrochemical cell

14th October 2008

Half-Day Symposium: Solar Energy Conversion Technologies

The cluster hosted a public symposium on aspects of Solar Energy Conversion Technologies in UCD Engineering and Materials Science Centre with invited speakers from Tyndall, Imperial College London, DCU and DIT.

Current Interests in Solar Cell Technologies at the Tyndall National Institute

Professor Martyn E Pemble
Head, Advanced Materials and Surfaces Group Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork.

Nanostructured and Molecular Materials for Photovoltaic Energy Conversion

Professor Jenny Nelson
Imperial College London.

Photocatalytic Processes for Sustainable Energy Sources

Professor Johannes G. Vos
SFI SRC in Solar Energy Conversion, School of Chemical Sciences, Dublin City University.

Harnessing Solar Energy Economically

Professor Brian Norton
Dublin Energy Lab, Dublin Institute of Technology.

1st May 2008


The cluster hosted a half day workshop on PV related technologies in UCD Engineering and Materials Science Centre. Following presentations by International invited speakers, Dr Shay Curran and Dr Upul Wijayantha; the workshop opened up to an audience Q&A session.

Organic Photovoltaics: Exploring their viability as a real material alternative

Dr Seamus A. Curran
Associate Professor, Physics Dept., University of Houston, Texas.

Nanocrystalline metal oxide semiconductor electrodes and their advances in the area of semiconductor photoelectrochemistry

Dr Upul Wijayantha
Department of Chemistry, Loughborough University, UK.

Dr Curran (left) & Dr Wijayantha (3rd from left) with the Cluster Strand Leaders