New Photovoltaic Research Partnership Spans Countries, Disciplines

A new research project spanning five universities in three countries and led by Arizona State University will work to improve solar cell technology and look into new uses for photovoltaic devices. ASU’s quantum energy and sustainable solar technologies engineering research center QESST will take the lead in the collaborative project to advance PV technology and applications. The partnership includes QESST member Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s photovoltaics research laboratory, the I-Form advanced manufacturing research center at Dublin City University, the Tyndall National Institute’s Irish Photonic Integration Center IPIC, and Ulster University’s nanotechnology and integrated bio-engineering center.

QESST’s most significant distinction is its own pilot line – a precommercial manufacturing line capable of producing small volumes of full-size solar cells and modules. (Click to enlarge; source: M. A. Chaira, ASU)

“This project speaks to ASU’s ability to bring together key partners to advance an innovative technology and develop meaningful, scalable strategies for effective deployment,” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, executive vice president of ASU Knowledge Enterprise. “The research center provides a platform for promoting transdisciplinary work among prominent scientists and researchers, and will explore technologies with the potential to address global grand challenges.”

I-Form at DCU will provide expertise in additive manufacturing and 3D printing, including the fabrication and testing of solar cell devices at ASU’s solar power laboratory, to demonstrate low cost solar cell manufacturing. The integration of I-Form’s quality by design nano-colloid production and additive manufacturing capabilities with the latest material development for the next generation of solar cell production provides an exciting new opportunity.

NBEC and ASU will integrate advances in nanoparticle plasma deposition technology into photovoltaics technology for new thin film applications. Finally, IPIC’s success in nano- and microphotonics will combine with MIT’s research to integrate small solar cells into indoor Internet of Things sensors and wearables. Converting indoor lighting into electrical power with solar panels will reduce the growing need for extended battery life for devices that have no access to sunlight.

“Photovoltaics is a rapidly growing and changing field, not only in its technology but also in its use and applications. Innovative technologies and approaches have helped photovoltaics on its own Moore’s law-like advancement, with costs declining and performance improving,” said QESST Director Christiana Honsberg. “The collaboration is exciting because it combines advances from new materials and fields, such as additive manufacturing, with those from photovoltaics to achieve both new technologies and transformative PV applications.”

Cross-center educational opportunities include a student exchange program and the development of web-streamed technology modules on the key technology developments. Funding partners for the project are the National Science Foundation in the US, the Science Foundation of Ireland, and Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy. (Source: ASU)

Links: Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies (QESST) Engineering Research Center, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USAIrish Photonic Integration Center IPIC, Tyndall National Institute, Cork, IrelandI-Form SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing at Dublin City University (DCU), Science Foundation of Ireland, (SFI)MIT Photovoltaic Research Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USANanotechnology and Integrated Bio-Engineering Center NBEC, Ulster University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

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