The first 40 years of photovoltaic invention was based on classical semiconductors, doped crystalline silicon and thin film couples such as GaAs and CdTe until 1990 when Michael Graetzel led the creation of cells that generated power through artificial photosynthesis. Holes were a thing of the past as titanium dioxide was excited to become a semiconductor and iodide ions became the mode of transfer of the electron to complete the circuit. However these liquid electrolyte dye solar cells suffered from low efficiency emulating the trees of nature more successfully than researchers sought.

Nevertheless, the technology was not a failure as it enabled power generation for niche products through different coloured dyes and transparency through nano-structuring.

Meanwhile, the demand for higher performance to compete with silicon eventually resulted in a breakthrough in which compounds deriving from LED technology were successful as replacements for the dye. As thousands of scientists leapt ship to investigate the solid state alternative to this dye solar cell, it did not take long to realise that these perovskite structures could produce power much more successfully than their parents. This is their story.


Gavin and Sylvia Tulloch

Gavin and Sylvia started their careers as Ceramic Engineers from UNSW, with a keen interest in perovskites. Later, Gavin started a business for Plessey based on piezoelectric perovskites that grew to become a world leader.

In 1994 Michael Graetzel came on the scene with the Graetzel Cell, later to be known as the Dye Solar Cell. Following two stages of development, the Tullochs founded Dyesol in 2004, floated it in 2005 and built it into the worldwide name in DSC. After losing control of the board in 2012, Gavin and Sylvia parted ways for some years, Gavin to Europe and Sylvia to direction and mentoring of start-up businesses mostly in the Canberra region. When the inevitable happened that Dyesol, then renamed Greatcell Solar, was driven into failure, Gavin and Sylvia reconnected to mount a rescue bid for the technology which is now named Greatcell Energy. Never give up.


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