Lowell, Massachusetts [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Massachusetts-based solar energy company Konarka is moving a step closer to commercialization by securing a new research grant. The company was awarded a US $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award will help fund Konarka’s efforts to increase the performance of the company’s polymer-based solar photovoltaic (PV) technology.“NSF’s SBIR/STTR Electronics Technology program is committed to advancing solar cell technology as a renewable energy source,” said T. James Rudd, program manager, NSF. “The Konarka technology promises good improvement in efficiency, and the proposed roll-to-roll manufacturing technique offers low-cost production possibilities.” The goal of this NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project is to raise the performance of the company’s dye-sensitized solar cell technology, including generating more electrical current and improving efficiency to 10 percent or higher. To do this, the company will enhance the ability of its dyes and additives to capture more of the solar spectrum. The grant is effective for two years. Russell Gaudiana, vice president of research and development, Konarka said the grant should enable the company to move forward on some promising advances they have seen in the labs. Konarka is producing flexible, lightweight and versatile PV plastic that could make it possible for devices, systems and structures to have their own low cost embedded sources of renewable power. “The Konarka technology promises good improvement in efficiency, and the proposed roll-to-roll manufacturing technique offers low-cost production possibilities,” said T. James Rudd, program manager, NSF SBIR/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.