Off-Grid, Solar

National Science Foundation Grant for Polymer Solar

This week, Konarka announced it received a new $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund additional research efforts focused on improving the performance of its plastic-based solar technologies.

Developing materials with high-energy absorption that result in high current output will increase overall photovoltaic cell performance. Such increases would significantly raise the efficiency of polymer-based cells, possibly reaching performance levels comparable to those shown by silicon-based solar technology in the laboratory. While Konarka is already applying its Power Plastic to energy, communications and military applications, reaching higher efficiencies opens up the potential for more applications and access to a broader set of energy markets. The grant, a second awarded to Konarka this year, will fund research to gain higher performance from novel nano-engineered and polymer materials that conduct electricity. “With Konarka having demonstrated some of the highest efficiencies for plastic photovoltaics to date, this grant will enable our team to further research chemical pathways to potential performance increases,” said Russell Gaudiana, vice president of research and development, Konarka. Moving forward, both performance and efficiency of Power Plastic materials will be greatly improved through additional research and development efforts, such as those conducted as a result of this NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project. The project leverages the existing development partnership between Konarka and Evident Technologies to develop high efficiency, low cost materials in new form factors. The combined effort, a quantum dot-based Power Plastic, could be used for demanding energy, communications and military applications, including battlefield or off-grid power generation. “This award comes to us as a direct result of the progress we’ve made in developing novel materials that have high performance,” said Daniel Patrick McGahn, Konarka’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “Expanding on these achievements will enable us to approach performance levels well beyond previous efficiencies, thus allowing the potential for additional applications and access to a broader set of energy markets.”