Millions Awarded for PV Technology Research

The U.S. government has awarded $6 million in research for the development of solar photovoltaic cells.

GOLDEN, Colorado, US, 2001-04-16 <> The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has awarded the money to eleven universities and five companies to support fundamental and exploratory research that will increase the amount of electricity generated by PV cells and reduce the cost of generation, and ensure the performance of PV cells over long periods of time. The three-year awards from the FY2001 budget range from $160,000 to $500,000. Recipients will explore concepts to make PV cells cheaper and more efficient than the cells in use today. Some of the new concepts will explore new methods, materials, and processes for creating electricity from sunlight, including two contracts that explore cells based on plastic materials. The University of Arizona in Tucson will receive $499,000 to develop new solar electric devices based on self-assembling, discotic liquid crystalline organic layers which have a significant potential for solar electricity production because they can be wet processed into large area panels, their thin films can be “self-repairing” to minimize defect sites and recombination centers, and they exhibit the high charge mobilities seen in organic single crystals. The University of California in Santa Cruz will receive $323,000 to develop plastic or polymer-based PV that has significant cost advantages over conventional technologies. This technology would be compatible with liquid-based plastic processing and its devices could be assembled onto plastic substrates under atmospheric conditions using standard printing technologies, such as screen printing. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena will receive $450,000 to alter or replace the existing molecular components of dye-sensitized nanocrystalline TiO2 solar cell. It will also receive $346,000 to develop an ion implantation-induced layer transfer process that could lead to a PV cell with an efficiency of at least 40 percent. Unisun of Newbury Park will receive $498,000 to demonstrate a non-vacuum process for fabricating high-efficiency thin-film copper-indium-gallium-selenide alloy solar cells. United Innovations of San Marcos will receive the same amount to develop Rugate filters for use in a novel solar concentrator system that will produce cell efficiencies of 50 percent. ITN Energy Systems of Wheat Ridge will receive $170,000 for a technical feasibility determination of a high efficiency, direct conversion device that converts available electromagnetic radiation directly into electric power. DuPont Central Research in Wilmington will receive $495,000 (and an additional $376,000 from DuPont) to develop a solid-state electrolyte for TiO2-based dye-sensitized solar cells and a study of the economic viability of the dye-sensitized solar cell. The University of Illinois in Urbana will receive $355,000 to develop ionized physical vapor deposition as a low-temperature deposition method on a CIGS device, with efficiencies exceeding 23 percent.

Iowa State University in Ames will receive $375,000 to develop new solar electric devices based on crystalline GeC alloy films and a second award of $160,000 to produce a theoretical study of the best performing hydrogenated silicon which has superior optical characteristics to amorphous silicon. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore will receive $463,000 to develop molecular solar cells, while the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will receive $316,000 to develop knowledge of GaInNAs and its properties for its use as a third junction in a 40 percent efficient multijunction solar cell. United Solar Systems of Troy will receive $500,000 (and an additional $500,000 from the company) to develop microcrystalline silicon solar cells deposited at high rate using microwave glow discharge. Princeton University in Princeton will receive $391,000 to develop a novel light trapping molecular organic solar cell, while Ohio State University in Columbus will receive $476,000 to develop a high-efficiency, multijunction single crystal solar cell on low cost Si-based substrates. NREL is a national laboratory of the Department of Energy. It is managed by Midwest Research Institute, Battelle and Bechtel, and is a research centre for PV and wind energy, as well as other renewable energy technologies.

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