RESEARCHERS at a North-East university are investigating new materials that could help meet the world's future energy needs.

The research team, led by Dr Ian Forbes, is exploring thin film photovoltaic (PV) technology based on kesterite - Copper-Zinc-Tin Sulphide crystal structure - materials that are less expensive and more widely available than materials currently used in PV panels.

If found to be effective, kesterites could revolutionise the solar energy market, expanding the capacity of energy produced from sunlight to satisfy the growing global energy demand.

Northumbria's research is part of a wider €3.7m European KESTCELL project that aims to train researchers to develop kesterite-based solar energy cells that would make solar-generated electricity more sustainable and competitive.

Tomorrow (WEDS SEPT 11) Dr Forbes and his colleague Professor Nicola Pearsall will explain their research into Kesterite materials during a session at the British Science Festival this week. Their interactive talk, entitled 'A Brilliant Future: how sunlight will wave goodbye to our fossilised past', emphasises the potential of solar energy to replace the world's dependence on fossil fuels.

Northumbria University is a member of the KESTCELLS consortium, made up of key European universities, research institutions and companies, tasked with developing PV technologies - based on new kesterite materials - that will be low cost, efficient, sustainable and easily mass produced.

The aim is that PV technologies will become a reliable and future alternative to non-renewable energy sources.