PhD graduate on a mission to solve energy crisis

Dr Wiseman Mpilo Dlamini received a PhD in Physics from UKZN. Picture: Supplied

Dr Wiseman Mpilo Dlamini received a PhD in Physics from UKZN. Picture: Supplied

Published Sep 23, 2022


Durban — A graduate who received a PhD in physics said the twin threats of global warming and diminishing reserves of fossil fuels had encouraged him to research solar cells in a bid to solve the energy crisis.

Dr Wiseman Mpilo Dlamini, of Mhlabashane near the small town of Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal, was awarded his PhD in physics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday.

Through his doctoral study, titled Plasmon as a Mechanism to Improve Performance of Bulk-heterojunction Organic Solar Cells, Dlamini said he had contributed to the quest for alternative clean, cheap energy sources to solve energy scarcity and global warming/ climate change.

“Organic solar cells are flexible, easier to produce, and more environmentally friendly than inorganic (silicon) solar cells,” said Dlamini.

He said that the whole world was relying significantly on fossil fuels for energy, adding that this had created major environmental pollution and global-warming problems.

“Solar (sunlight) energy had long been considered one of the most promising, abundant and clean energy sources. Solar cells are used to harvest this energy and convert it into usable electricity.

“My research focused on improving the performance of polymer/organic material-based solar cells using metallic nanoparticles. Polymer solar cells are the subject of intense research and development, with the aim being (for them) to replace their inorganic (silicon-based) counterparts. My research also used metallic nanoparticles to improve the sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiency of solar cells. The solar cells incorporated with the nanoparticles showed significantly enhanced performance,” he said.

Dlamini said he had been overwhelmed with joy and pride at his hard work when he received his PhD.

“I never thought this would happen to me,” he said.

Dlamini said he was grateful to the National Metrology Institute of SA, the NRF, the NSFAS, his supervisor, and his family for all their help and support.

“I wish that the youth of this country could be more inspired and believe that they too can achieve success,” he said.

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