SolarSpec (Solar Energy Conversion and Spectroscopy laboratory)

The University of British Columbia, Kelowna, British Columbia
What the facility does

Optical spectroscopy of inexpensive photocatalysts.

Areas of expertise

The SolarSpec (Solar Energy Conversion and Spectroscopy) laboratory helps develop improved solar energy conversion technologies to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. We are interested in developing collaborations with academic and industrial partners to engage in knowledge transfer activities to improve these technologies and bring them to market.

Our expertise lies in the use of state-of-the-art spectroscopic techniques such as transient absorption spectroscopy (TAS) and unique instrumentation to measure what happens inside photocatalysts when they are irradiated by light. Kinetic and spectroelectrochemical measurements help us discover the limitations of a range of photocatalytic materials, particularly inexpensive carbon-based photocatalysts. We can then direct synthetic efforts to quickly address these bottlenecks. The overarching idea is that understanding the correlation between the structure and the photophysics of advanced materials will lead us to engineer superior photocatalysts.

Research services
  • Optical characterization of liquids, thin films, powders (absorbance, diffuse reflectance, photoluminescence)
  • Time-resolved photoluminescence measurements in the visible and near infrared ranges
  • Quantification of photocatalytic production of H2 and O2
  • Photocatalytic dye degradation measurements
  • Transient absorption spectroscopy measurements
Sectors of application
  • Chemical industries
  • Clean technology
  • Energy
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
Transient absorption spectrometer (custom-built)Measures transient absorption on microsecond to second timescales. Spectral ranges of ~ 500 – 1800 nm (VIS-NIR/visible spectrum-near infrared), and 1700 – 900 cm-1 (MIR/mid-infrared). Can measure in transmission (liquids, thin films) and diffuse reflectance modes.
PalmSens4 potentiostatPerforms a wide range of electrochemical measurements, including electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Has electronic triggering/synchronization abilities to couple with the transient absorption for time-resolved spectroelectrochemical measurements.
Ocean Optics fiber-based optical spectrometerSpectral range ~ 200 – 1100 nm. 1x1 cm2 cuvette and integrating sphere accessories enable liquid, thin film, and powder measurements. Can measure absorbance and photoluminescence. Excitation for photoluminescence is from a range of laser diodes between 405 nm and 980 nm.
Unisense multichannel amplifier and sensorsQuantitative detection of H2 and/or O2 in solution or gas phase.
ScienceTech SciSun-300 Solar Simulator, Class AAAAAA solar simulator, 2 inch x 2 inch output.


Experimental determination of charge carrier dynamics in carbon nitride heterojunctions.
Soluble carbon nitride nanosheets as an alternate precursor for hard-templated morphological control.
Interfacial charge transfer in carbon nitride heterojunctions monitored by optical methods.
UBCO researcher studies procedures to convert solar energy technologies.