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Associate Professor Xiaojing Hao

UNSW Scientia Associate Professor Xiaojing Hao has emerged over the past decade as a world leader in thin-film photovoltaics (PV), a field focused on the direct conversion of sunlight into electric power. 

Her line of research at UNSW into solar cells made from ‘sulphide kesterite’. This emerging, earth-abundant and non-toxic thin-film material is changing the way people think about producing renewable solar energy. 

Her work has been driven by a keen awareness that our current and future renewable energy demands will only be met with a wide-scale and significant increase in the use of photovoltaics. Her world-leading achievements have brought the performance of this environmentally-friendly technology closer to being commercially-viable.

Watch a video about her work

Associate Professor Xiaojing Hao talks about her research and contribution.

[Music plays and image shows the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, the words ‘Australian Government’, the Malcolm McIntosh Prize medallion and text beneath: 2020 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, Scientia Associate Professor Xiaojing Hao]

[Images move through of a hand lifting a sample of yellow liquid in a container from a machine, and then the image changes to show Professor Xiaojing looking at the sample]

Scientia Professor Xiaojing Hao: I’m Xiaojing Hao.

[Image changes to show Xiaojing Hao talking to the camera]

My role at the UNSW is Scientia Associate Professor at the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering.

[Image changes to show a side view of Xiaojing smiling]

I’m currently also Australian Research Council Future Fellow.

[Image changes to show Xiaojing working on a computer and the camera zooms in on her face and then the image changes to show the sun shining through clouds in the sky]

The aim of my research is to squeeze more electricity out of sunlight.

[Images move through to show Xiaojing smiling outside of the UNSW Energy Technologies Building, Xiaojing talking, a profile view of Xiaojing talking in a laboratory, and Xiaojing looking at a solar cell]

My research at UNSW has been recognised by our leadership in three thin-film solar cell technologies, including five world record efficiencies for abundant, non-toxic, and stable kesterite solar cells.

[Images move through Xiaojing and a colleague operating a machine, an aerial view of a solar farm, solar panels on a house roof, and an aerial view of solar panels being installed on a roof]

Traditionally we see silicone solar cells in solar farms or on our house roof.

[Image changes to show Xiaojing holding up thin-film solar cells and comparing them]

What I’m doing is to integrate our thin-film solar cells with different types of surfaces and it can be flexible stainless steel, rigid glass, or even simply added on to silicone.

[Image changes to show a bank of solar panels and then the image changes to show an aerial view of solar panels on a large roof area]

These thin-film solar cells I’m working on can be used in various aspects of our daily life. We want to see them everywhere because we have solar energy everywhere.

[Image changes to show Xiaojing talking to the camera and then the image changes to show Xiaojing and a colleague in conversation in the laboratory]

Mostly I love the research because I’m a curious seeker of the truth.

[Image changes to show Xiaojing talking to the camera]

From a very young age whenever I saw something I always felt there was a smarter and easier way to do it.

[Image changes to show a close view of Xiaojing operating a machine in the laboratory and then the image changes to show Xiaojing and a colleague operating different machines]

My aspiration of using solar power was seeded at a very young age. When I was five years old I tried using solar energy as a magical power to cook noodles.

[Image changes to show Xiaojing talking to the camera]

I wanted to be an innovator and a detective, so I became a scientist.

[Image changes to show Xiaojing and a colleague in conversation, and then the image changes to show Xiaojing talking to the camera, and then the image changes to show a profile of Xiaojing smiling]

To be recognised by the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, I’m really honoured about that one. It’s really good to put our research work under the spotlight and further helping us to promote our research work and research achievement.

[Music plays and the image changes to show the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, the words ‘Australian Government’, the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year medallion and text beneath: 2020 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, Scientia Associate Professor Xiaojing Hao]

See her acceptance speech

Associate Professor Xiaojing Hao accepted her prize at this year’s live streamed event.

[Image shows Xiaojing Hao talking to the camera and the Malcolm McIntosh Prize Physical Scientist of the Year medallion to the left of the screen and text appears: Scientia Associate Professor Xiaojing Hao]

Professor Xiaojing Hao: Dear Prime Minister Morrison, Minister Karen Andrews, and friends. It’s a great honour for me to receive Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year for the recognition of my work, making electricity from sunlight by using thin-film solar cells, and also for recognition of my field, solar photovoltaic.

Solar photovoltaic is critically important, contributing towards saving our environment and our planet. This award is shared with all my research group members.

[Camera zooms in to show a close view of Xiaojing talking to the camera]

My mentor, Professor Martin Green, all my collaborators, and all those at UNSW who have supported this vital work for the past ten years.

Special thanks to Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Australian Research Council for their continuous funding support. With their support we can concentrate our efforts on solving important problems facing photovoltaic.

[Camera zooms out to show Xiaojing talking to the camera]

Finally, I would especially like to thank my husband, Yansong Shen, for his endless support, encouraging me to pursue my vision, to push my work to its limits. A special thanks to our children, Emma and Jamie, for being so wonderful and independent, helping us to achieve our goals of family and do academic life.

Thank you all.

[Image changes to show the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, the words ‘Australian Government’, the Malcolm McIntosh Prize medallion rotating on the screen and the text beneath: 2020 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, Scientia Associate Professor Xiaojing Hao]