Researchers awarded £908,000 to develop self-powered Internet of Things devices

Researchers awarded £908,000 to develop self-powered Internet of Things devices

Scientists and engineers at Swansea University have been awarded a research grant by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) that will see them explore highly novel forms of physical photovoltaic (PV) tiles that can be placed on buildings, objects and even clothes.

What will be special about these materials is that they will harvest indoor and ambient light, achieving world-record efficiency rates, to power integrated digital services.

The three-year project involves a range of local and global partners. Dr Ben Masheder of DST Innovations, based in Bridgend, Wales, said; “We believe that the surface has barely been scratched of integrated devices such as sensors, displays, energy harvesting and lighting. This project brings together all of these elements and will go a long way to addressing the challenges that this area presents and because of these we are excited to be a partner in the research.”

Further afield, the team will work with IIT-B in Mumbai, India; Prof Anirudha Joshi of the Industrial Design Centre said: “The energy demands the internet of things revolution brings are enormous. In the ‘developed’ world, this problem will affect sustainability.

In the ‘developing’ world, though, energy resource constraints and physical resource issues means that without innovation, billions of people will have reduced opportunities to benefit from the coming digital transformation”.

The project will be led by Professor Matt Jones in the College of Science and Dr Matt Carnie in the College of Engineering. Prof Jones said; “This project is funded by EPSRC to act as a world class exemplar of what is called cross-disciplinary and co-creation research. That is, research that needs intensive engagement between two very different areas of expertise – in our case human computer interaction and photovoltaics – and that involves real end-users in the process”.

Dr Carnie added: “We are all delighted to be able to work together on this ambitious research agenda that will have a real influence on how future solar cells are constructed and used in everyday life”.

The applications for the devices are vast and diverse:-

* a child could create interactive art designs for their bedroom wall which can be sent to the Interactive-PV display tiles installed. While they work like LED displays, they can operate for years without needing external power, battery changes or space-consuming standard PV cells.

* A pedestrian walking in Mumbai during the monsoon rains could also benefit from this technology. By gesturing at a flexible Interactive-PV tile woven into a street awning they could receive a no-entry warning sign, allowing them to change direction to avoid walking into a deep flood in the passageway ahead.

The work will begin in September 2018 in the brand new Computational Foundry on the University’s Bay Campus.


Notes to editors:

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate.

By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture.

We work collectively with our partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

Swansea University’s College of Science and College of Engineering

Swansea University’s Computational Foundry

Swansea University’s new £31 million Computational Foundry facility is currently being built at the University’s Bay Campus and is due for occupation in September 2018. A global destination for computational research and teaching, it is backed by £17.1million from the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government.

When reporting this story, please use Swansea University hyperlinks.

Swansea University is a world-class, research-led, dual campus university. The University was established in 1920 and was the first campus university in the UK. It currently offers around 350 undergraduate courses and 350 postgraduate courses to circa 20,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The University’s 46-acre Singleton Park Campus is located in beautiful parkland with views across Swansea Bay. The University’s 65-acre science and innovation Bay Campus, which opened in September 2015, is located a few miles away on the eastern approach to the city. It has the distinction of having direct access to a beach and its own seafront promenade. Both campuses are close to the Gower Peninsula, the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

In 2017, Swansea University became the top university in Wales in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide league table, and also won the inaugural Welsh University of the Year title.

It is also ranked within the top 300 best universities in the world in the Times Higher Education World University rankings.

The results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 showed the University has achieved its ambition to be a top 30 research University, soaring up the league table to 26th in the UK, with the ‘biggest leap among research-intensive institutions’ (Times Higher Education, December 2014) in the UK.

The University has ambitious expansion plans as it moves towards its centenary in 2020, as it continues to extend its global reach and realising its domestic and international ambitions.

Swansea University is a registered charity. No.1138342. Visit

For more information, please contact Delyth Purchase Swansea University Public Relations Office.Tel: 01792 513022, or email:

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