U.S. Department of Energy to invest $900,000 in solar energy research at UW as part of Solar America Initiative

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) plans to invest $900,000 in solar energy research at the University of Washington (UW) as part of the Solar America Initiative (SAI), which aims to make solar energy cost-competitive with conventional sources of electricity by 2015.

“We plan to use interfacial engineering to improve the efficiency of polymer-based photovoltaic devices,” said Alex Jen, chair of the UW's Department of Materials Science & Engineering (MSE) and leader of the research team. “These devices will make use of hybrid nanostructures that combine organic and inorganic materials.”

Christine Luscombe, assistant professor in MSE, Hong Ma, research assistant professor in MSE, John Rehr, professor of physics, and David Ginger, assistant professor of chemistry, will all work on the project.

Jen said that “multilayer, solution-processible organic tandem solar cells are the ultimate goal.”

A photovoltaic device converts absorbed photons directly into electrical charges. Photovoltaic technology is being increasingly recognized as part of the solution to the nation’s growing energy challenge and an essential component of future global energy production.

DOE is investing $21.7 million on 25 photovoltaic research projects at universities and companies across the nation as part of SAI. The projects were selected in November 2007.

“These projects help create a pipeline for the development of next generation solar technology,” said DOE Secretary Samuel H. Bodman. “Our goal is to make solar power a more mainstream source of energy.”


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