James Gardner is the Associate Professor of Photoelectrochemistry at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Head of the Division of Applied Physical Chemistry, and Deputy Head of the Center for Molecular Devices. James is an active researcher in the field of solar energy. James has led a research team in the search of new materials for solar energy conversion and fundamental studies on the photoelectrochemistry of molecules and materials. James is passionate about developing affordable and clean solar energy solutions and has contributed to this research since his PhD.
James’ research career started on dye-sensitized solar cells and studying the photoelectrochemistry of iodine species. The photocatalyzed bond making and breaking of iodine-iodine bonds is a fundamental charge transfer step in dye-sensitized solar cells. The most surprising discovery was the observation of iodine atoms as reaction intermediates. Iodine atoms are strong enough oxidants to oxidize water and could be a fundamental step in solar hydrogen production from water. With the advent of organic metal halide perovskite solar cells (PSC), the chemistry of iodine catapulted back into James’ research. In PSC, semiconductors based on Sn(II) or Pb(II) and iodide or bromide are deposited out of solution and processed at low temperature. The solar cells have power conversion efficiencies competitive with polycrystalline Si, but at a fraction of the cost. Since 2012, James’ research group has focused on synthesizing new perovskite materials and examining chemical methods to stabilize these promising materials in solar cells.
To help promote the chemical sciences, since 2012 James has been actively involved in mentoring high school students. Each year, James helps guide students from a local high school in developing challenging research projects and opens his lab to student researchers. The students have made exciting new materials, build solar cells, and continued with chemistry careers of their own.