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IM Dharmadasa

Professor I M Dharmadasa BSc, PhD, CPhys, CEng, FInstP, FWIF

Principal Lecturer and Professor


Professor Dharmadasa (Dharme) is a Senior Staff Grade Professor in Electronic Materials and Devices. He joined Sheffield Hallam University as a Senior Lecturer in August 1990. Dharme's research is focused on solar energy conversion, and he has over 38 years of experience in both industry and academia. He has published over 300 articles including 6 patents, a single authored book on "Advances in Thin Film Solar Cells- Pan Stanford Publishing" and a co-authored book on "Next Generation Solar Cells- Springer".
Dharme is also a promoter of renewable applications in society. The theme of his work is to use clean energy for sustainable development and poverty reduction. He coordinated a British Council managed and DFID funded HE-Link in the 1990s, and this led to an evolution of a 'Solar-Village' project in order to empower rural communities. This project is now in replication stage in Sri Lanka with the support from the Sri Lankan Government.

  • About

    Dharme is the Head of Electronic Materials & Sensors Group within the Materials and Engineering Research Institute. His research focuses on the development of next generation, low-cost and high-efficiency solar cells. He has nearly four decades of experience in both industry and academia and his work has secured six patents, based on novel process developments. He has also proposed two new scientific models concerning development of photovoltaic solar cells. During his career he has successfully supervised 28 PhDs, 14 years of postdoctoral research and examined 30 postgraduate candidates.

    Earlier in his career, Dharme graduated from University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka by completing two BSc Honours degrees covering Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. He won the Dr. Hewavitharana memorial prize for best performance for his Physics Special Degree in 1975, and joined the academic staff of the Physics Department at University of Peradeniya. After winning an open commonwealth scholarship in 1977, he completed his PhD thesis in 1980 at University of Durham, before returning to his post in Sri Lanka. A deep research interest generated by his PhD thesis led his return to the UK in 1984, where he carried out active research at University College Cardiff and the British Petroleum Company, before joining SHU in 1990.

    Dharme is actively involved in the promotion of clean energy for social development and reduction of poverty. He has designed, piloted and monitored "Solar Village" project, and this is now in the replication stage within and outside Sri Lanka. He is a Fellow of the World Innovation Foundation and the Institute of Physics, UK. He referees for over 14 Journals and one of the Editors of J. of Materials; Materials in Electronics. He currently serves as Assessor/panel member for The European Commission and the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission. In the past he has served as an Assessor/panel member for the EPSRC, DTI and the British Council for a period of 6-years each. Dharme is one of the founding members of the APSL-UK charity and has served as the Vice President for 5 years and the President for two years (2009-2011). Now he is serving as a senior adviser within the Ex-Co of APSL-UK charity organisation.

    Dharme's duties within the University include Teaching, Research and Scholarly Activities. He teaches various courses within Electronic Engineering and carries out active research within MERI in electronic materials and electronic devices. His current focus is on solar energy conversion with new device structures and solar hydrogen production. He is currently developing next generation solar cells using graded bandgap device structures which he designed and experimentally tested in 2005. Dharme is also actively working to take solar energy technology from laboratory to the society through the "Solar Village" projects.

    Further details at Research Gate:
    And at the Blogsite:


    • Won a Sri Lankan government scholarship on the merit of O/L results in 1966.
    • Won the best student prize from high school (~2000 students) after A/L in 1969.
    • Won Dr Hewavitharana memorial prize for the best performance at the Univ. in 1975.
    • Won an open Commonwealth Scholarship from Association of Commonwealth
    Universities for 3-year postgraduate research at Durham University in 1977.
    • Won the media category of Eurosolar UK Prize Award for inspiring renewable energy applications in 2001.
    • Inclusion in Marquis Who’s Who in Science and Eng. Directory-7th Ed., in 2002.
    • Won the BRISLA Award for "Achievements in Science & Technology" in October 2016

    Areas of Interest:

    - Development of semiconductors using low-cost electroplating;

    - Development of thin film solar cells for solar energy conversion

    - Production of solar hydrogen

    - Social development projects (Solar Villages) for sustainable development.

  • Teaching

    Department of Engineering and Mathematics

    Science, Technology and Arts

    Numerous PhD projects on materials & device development
    Solar Villages for sustainable development.

    Subject Area/Group: Electrical, Electronic & Control Engineering


    - PV Technology for “Sustainability, Energy & Environmental Management”, part of the MSc Advanced Engineering.
    - Engineering Product Analysis & Design (EPAD), part of BEng Electronic & Electrical Engineering (Year 2).
    - Optical Fibre Communication for “Railway Communication”, part of BEng Railway Engineering (Final year).
    - PV Technology for Various Engineering Degree Courses as a Guest Lecturer. - Member of the Industrial Placement Preparation Team (academic)

  • Research

    • Thin Films Research Centre
    • Materials and Engineering Research Institute

    Dharme's research programme aims to develop next generation solar cells based on electrodeposited semiconductors and graded bandgap device architectures. The work involves thin film materials deposition (CdS, ZnS, ZnTe, ZnSe, GaSe, InSe, CdSe, CdTe, CdMnTe etc.), material characterisation (XRD, SEM, EDAX, PEC, XRF, Raman, Hall-Effect, Optical Absorption, Film Thickness measurements etc.), device fabrication & assessment (I-V, C-V, Responsivity measurements, monitoring stability, lifetime, uniformity & yield) and scaling up of thin film solar cells. In this work, PhD candidates will use a selected number of materials when the candidate joins the group according to the requirements of the time, electroplate materials, use a wide range of modern analytical techniques to characterise layers & optimise growth conditions, and work with an active research Team. The work will mainly concentrate on doping of materials to achieve high efficiencies for the II-VI semiconductors based solar cells. The current lab-scale efficiency achieved is 15.3%, and the efforts are to achieve highest possible values from these materials. The solar cell sizes will also been scaled up achieving high efficiencies, and their stability, reproducibility and yield will be monitored.
    New candidates joining the group will also learn and experience Renewable Energy applications for sustainable development, in particular the "Solar Village" programme designed, piloted and monitored by Dharme. This project has now entered into the replication stage.

    Current Collaborators:
    CONN Centre -USA
    ED Institute in Kazakhstan
    Dept. of Chemistry, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka
    CREST, Loughborough University
    Oweri, Kano & Akure Universities in Nigeria
    Univ. of Malaya, Malaysia
    Jawaharlal Nehru Centre, Bangalore, India

    Sponsors for this Research:
    Sheffield Hallam University
    EPSRC - UK
    DTI/UK Industry
    ACU/CSC (C/W)
    British Council/DFID
    Governments of Nigeria, Malaysia, Libya, Kurdishtan

  • Publications

  • Other activities

    - External examiner for over 26 PhD theses;
    - Fellow of the World Innovation Foundation (FWIF) since June 2003;
    - Fellow of the Institute of Physics (FInstP) since March 2004;
    - Chartered Engineer (CEng) since March 1999;
    - Chartered Physicist (CPhys) since 1986;
    - Member of the British Council Advisers’ College (served for 6 years);
    - Member of the DTI (Now TSB) panel of independent assessors and panel members to support New Renewable Energy Programme (served for 6 years);
    - Member of the EPSRC Peer Review College (served for 6 years);
    - Referee for 14 international journals (Semicond. Sci. Technol., Thin Solid Films, Surfaces & Interfaces, Solar Energy Materials & Solar Cells, Optical Materials, Solid State Electronics, J. Phys. D, Applied Physics, Chemistry & Physics of Matter, J. of Physical Chemistry, etc.);
    - One of the Editors of Journal of Materials; Materials in Electronics;
    - Member of the Editorial Board of "Solar-Asia" conference series;
    - Member of the Editorial Board of the Scientific World Journal;
    - President of APSL (Association of Professional Sri Lankans in the UK), Two year term from 2009-2011, one of the 6 APSL-UK initiators;
    - Member of the Panel of Academic Advisers for Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and Fellowship Plan;
    - Adviser to European Commission's FP7 & Horizon 2020 - Solar Energy Research Projects;
    - Adviser to several Governments on Renewable Energy applications (Sri Lanka, UK, Romania, Canada).

  • Postgraduate supervision

    Current PhD Students:
    - Ashfaque Alam. Development of Next Generation Solar Cells based on p-type window materials.

    Past Doctoral Researchers:
    Dharme has successfully supervised 28 projects (18 PhD projects as the Director of Studies (DoS), and 10 projects as the second supervisor). The 16 PhD projects completed as the DoS are listed below.

    - Dr. Ayotunde Ojo. Next Generation Solar Cells based on Graded Bandgap Device Structures. 2017.
    - Dr. Mohammed Madugu. Processing of Semiconductors and Thin Film Solar Cells Using Electroplating. 2016.
    - Dr. O. I. Olusola. Optoelectronic devices based on graded bandgap structures utilising electroplated semiconductors. October 2016.
    - Dr. H. I. Salim. Multilayer solar cells based on CdTe grown from nitrate precursor. March 2016.
    - Dr. Azlian Nor Abdul-Manaf. Organic/Inorganic hybrid solar cells based on electroplated CdTe. November 2015.
    - Dr. Fijay Fauzi. R&D of CdS/CdTe solar cells incorporating ZnTe layers. June 2015.
    - Dr. Obi Kinsley Echendu. Thin film solar cells using All-Electrodeposited ZnS, CdS and CdTe materials. April 2014.
    - Dr. Ajith Weerasinghe. Solar cells based on electrodeposited thin films of ZnS, CdS, CdSSe and CdTe. February 2013.
    - Dr. Osama S. Elsherif. Electrical characterisation of defects in wide bandgap semiconductors. June 2012.
    - Dr. Dahiru G. Diso. R&D of CdTe based thin film PV solar cells. October 2011.
    - Dr. Gafar E. A. Mufta. R&D of CuInTe2 and CdTe based thin film PV solar cells. February 2010.
    - Dr. Jayne S. Wellings. Electrodeposition of Semiconductors for Applications in Thin Film Solar Cells. August 2009.
    - Dr. Gavin J. Tolan. Electro-Chemical Development of CuInGaSe2 based photovoltaic Solar cells. October 2008.
    - Dr. Thomas Delsol. R&D of CuInSe2 - based Photovoltaic Solar cells. September 2001.
    - Dr. Stephen M McGregor. Solar cells based on Electrodeposited CdS and CdTe Films. August 1999.
    - Dr. J-J S D McChesney. Development of Electronic Materials for Infra-Red Detector Systems. Autumn 1999.
    - Dr. Anura P Samantilleke. Electrodeposition of ZnSe, CdSe and CdTe thin film Materials and Optoelectronic Devices. September 1998.
    - Dr. Chris J Blomfield. Study of Surface Modifications for Improved Selected Metal (II-VI) Semiconductor Based Devices.

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