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3 December 2007


Rochester’s NanoPower Research Labs receive $3.2m in PV funding

Rochester Institute of Technology is expanding its research and technology transfer efforts in renewable energy development and sustainability due to recent funding awards from the US Departments of Energy and Defense.

RIT’s NanoPower Research Labs has received two awards (out of 25 given nationally) from the Department of Energy’s Future Generation Photovoltaic Devices and Processes Program.

The first award (for $1.1m) is for a three-year project aimed at providing higher-efficiency solar cells for the growing concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) market. “This work will build on our previous efforts in efficiency and design to create a higher-quality solar cell,” says principal investigator and NanoPower Labs member Seth Hubbard.

The second award (for $2.1m over three years) is for a university-industry collaboration with Wakonda Technologies Inc of Fairport, near Rochester, NY, USA designed to enhance the integration of III-V materials onto thin films used in solar cell production. The project was also selected for a matching grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The work will build on Wakonda’s efforts to produce more energy-efficient and cost-effective solar cells for commercial use. Wakonda is commercializing Virtual Single Crystal (VSC) thin-film technology related to III-V triple-junction terrestrial solar cells fabricated on Ge film on flexible metal foil about 2 mils (0.0508mm) thick, rather than on expensive germanium crystal wafer substrate (the PV cell can therefore be integrated into buildings, infrastructure and personal power applications).

“Our collaboration with RIT will promote the continued development of alternative energy industries in New York,” adds Wakonda’s CEO Les Fritzemeier.

The research should also ultimately expand RIT’s education and research goals through the newly created Golisano Institute for Sustainability. “Our efforts will build upon and enhance the sustainable transportation research being undertaken by the Golisano Institute and assist in the development of sustainable energy systems that provide cost-effective energy with no negative environmental impacts,” says NanoPower Labs director Ryne Raffaelle, professor of physics and microsystems engineering. “Research will also provide hands-on training for students in the institute’s proposed doctoral program in sustainability, helping to educate our next generation of engineers, designers and policy makers.”

Over the past three years, RIT’s NanoPower Research Labs have received over $5m in competitive awards for solar energy and battery research.

See related items:

GreenVolts raises $10m in Series A funding

Wakonda named Clean Energy Entrepreneur of the Year and awarded $900,000 DOE funding

Emcore receives record concentrator photovoltaic cell order

Emcore claims record efficiency for volume-production, multi-junction solar cell aimed at terrestrial applications

Spectrolab’s new terrestrial solar cell smashes 40% efficiency barrier

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