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Personal profile


David Payne has a background in photonics and electronics and his primary field of expertise is photovoltaics (PV), with a view towards lowering the cost and increasing the efficiency of solar cells to accelerate the uptake of sustainable and clean energy production.
He is head of the PV and optical characterisation lab at MQ and has a strong record of successful research grant acquistion and management. He is a named investigator on a combined total of $5.3 million of research funding across categories 1 and 3, of which he is/was lead investigator for $1.5 million. 
He currently leads an ARENA funded research project which aims to lower the cost of solar module manufacturing through the development of new highly-capable low-cost production tools based on consumer-electronics technology.

His core research interests are:

  • Silicon solar cells
  • Nanophotonics and light-trapping
  • Advanced optical characterisation and modelling
  • Material defect characterisation and mitigation
  • Image processing and research software development

He has taught numerous units within the MQ electronic and electrical engineering degree, at  both the undergraduate and postgraduate level. He is passionate about effective teaching innovation and increasing student engagement. In recent years he has co-led the development of multiple creative approaches to enable high-quality practical remote learning. In 2020 he won the FSE teaching innovation award for excellence in online delivery as well as a high-commendation for innovative approaches to assesment and feedback.

Teaching units that he has convened/supervised include:

  • Arduino Circuit Workshop
  • Electrical and Electronic Systems
  • Nonlinear Circuits and Devices
  • Electronic Devices and Systems
  • Engineering Thesis A/B
  • Digital Systems Design

David is also Chair of the Work, Health and Safety committee for the school of engineering. Through this role he is actively developing and implementing strategies for improved laboratory safety and management, increased engagement of academics with WHS, and improved awareness and facilities towards health and wellbeing. He had developed and pioneered a streamlined approach for laboratory management and inspections within the school of engineering which includes a novel certification system to provide recognition to management teams that consistantly uphold and demonstrate best-practice.

Education/Academic qualification

Photovoltaics, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Photovoltaics: Light trapping for thin silicon technologies, University of Southampton

1 Oct 20091 Jun 2013

Award Date: 14 Jun 2014

Electronic Engineering, MEng, University of Southampton


Award Date: 1 Jul 2009

External positions

Adjunct Lecturer, The University of New South Wales

1 May 2018 → …


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