CRSP Funds 10 New Advanced Solar Research Projects

Separately, CRSP also has launched its first Sponsored Research Program effort – a project between Konarka Technologies and Colorado State University (CSU).

CRSP is a research center of the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory. The center is dedicated to the basic and applied research necessary to create revolutionary new solar energy technologies as well as educational and training opportunities.

The 10 pre-competitive CRSP projects include eight new research proposals and two renewals of projects funded last year. Since its inception in April 2008, CRSP has funded two rounds of shared research projects totaling $2 million, providing an important boost to advanced solar research in Colorado. Funding for this program comes from CRSP corporate members and matching funds from the Collaboratory via the State of Colorado.

The four research institutions that have received funding are CSU, the Colorado School of Mines (CSM), the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The 10 projects were selected from a total of 27 proposals, said Dr. Craig Taylor, who serves as scientific director of CRSP.

“These projects were jointly selected by the science co-directors at CRSP and representatives from our member companies in order to tackle basic and applied research bottlenecks regarding cutting edge solar photoconversion for electricity and fuels," Taylor said.

"The research underpins renewable energy technologies, commonly called third-generation solar photon conversion, for the highly efficient and cost-competitive production of both electricity and fuels via direct solar processes," he said.

The Sponsored Research Program project involves Konarka Technologies and CSU for an undisclosed funding amount to advance carbon fullerene nanostructures, said Dr. Mike Elliott, who serves as CSU co-director for CRSP.

The project evolved from related work originally funded by CRSP in its inaugural Shared Research Program round of funding in 2009. CRSP’s goal is for research projects with significant potential to "graduate" from initial seed funding to a second development phase either with an industrial partner or significant federal funding.

Konarka develops and manufactures solar plastic films that convert light to energy.

“This research may lead to revolutionary organic photovoltaics (OPV),” said Dr. Elliott.

“OPV materials could significantly improve efficiency by creating the ability to control electron interface energetics, thin-film morphology and photocarrier dynamics in thin films and devices,” said Dr. Russ Gaudiana, VP Research of Konarka.

CRSP corporate members receive access to non-exclusive licenses to any resulting intellectual property from the Shared Research Program. This program is designed to leverage new intellectual property into large-scale research for CRSP member companies and CRSP researchers. The CRSP Sponsored Research Program allows for proprietary research between a CRSP member company and selected CRSP researchers.

CRSP also is building its Federally Funded Research Program by pursuing grants to support large-scale basic or applied research to further advance solar energy technology and its commercialization in the marketplace.

Last year, CRSP announced the first two elements to their federal program including participation in a U.S. DOE Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) and National Science Foundation (NSF) Renewable Energy Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (REMRSEC). The EFRC will generate more than $1 million per year for five years in research funding in Colorado (principally at and led by NREL) and includes matching funding from the Collaboratory. The REMRSEC is led by CSM and is the first renewable energy center funded by NSF.

Fourteen companies currently belong to CRSP: Abengoa Solar PV, Applied Materials, Ascent Solar Technologies, DuPont, Evident Technologies, G24 Innovations, General Motors, Konarka, Lockheed Martin, Motech Industries, Sharp, Tokyo Electron, Toyota and ZettaSun.

In the latest round of CRSP funding, the 10 selected shared research projects and their principal investigators are:

Inorganic materials and novel device architectures for advanced solar cells

1. Joseph Beach, Colorado School of Mines, Transparent Back Contacts to Enable Novel Architectures in Advanced CdTe and Cu(In,Ga)Se2 Solar Cells
2. Amy Prieto, Colorado State University, Optimizing Cu2ZnSnS4-based Photovoltaic Devices: Characterizing Films Made From Nanoparticle Inks for their Application in Inexpensive and Scalable Thin Film Photovoltaics
3. Rafael Piestun, University of Colorado at Boulder, 3D Plasmonic Nanostructures for Novel Electromagnetic Energy Conversion Devices and Systems

Novel organic/polymeric/hybrid inorganic-organic solar cells

1. Steve George, University of Colorado at Boulder, Gas Diffusion Barriers for Thin Film Solar Devices Using Atmospheric Atomic Layer Deposition
2. Josef Michl, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boron-Based Polymers (new hole conducting polymers for DSSC)

Third Generation PV

1. Matt Shores, Colorado State University, and Niels Damrauer, University of Colorado at Boulder, New Materials and Time Resolved Measurements for Optimizing Hole-Transfer Photochemistry
2. Sumit Agarwal, Colorado School of Mines, Novel Nanoparticle Superlattices for Space-Separated Quantum Cutting
3. Joel Eaves, University of Colorado at Boulder, Multiexcitons in Quantum Nanostructures: From Theory to Design

Solar Fuels

1. Gordana Dukovic, University of Colorado at Boulder, Synthesis of Nanoscale Oxy(nitrides) for Solar Water Splitting
2. Colin Wolden, Colorado School of Mines, Electrochemical Synthesis of Catalysts for Photoelectrolysis and Conformal TCO Deposition

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.