Next generation photovoltaics for widespread clean energy from the sun
A new generation of women scientists prepared to tackle technical challenges in creative ways
Next generation photovoltaic devices with cascade energy layers, quantum dot semiconductors and tandem structures
State of the art solar cell fabrication equipment, used by students and researchers across the Five College Area
Ground breaking student work published in scientific journals
Renewables are a stunning success story. Both solar and wind have grown faster than Apple since 2003. Unfortunately, renewables are starting at a small fraction of the electricity mix and will likely take at least 20 years to reach a significant portion of the mix. Without a World War II scale mobilization, renewables cannot grow any faster. The troubling fact is that the current rate is not fast enough to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Crystalline silicon modules can take two days to manufacture, but flexible roll-to-roll solar cells could be manufactured in a couple of hours. Imagine rolling out a large, lightweight canvas of solar cells in minutes rather than spending days laboriously attaching bulky panels to your roof. Picture your collapsable umbrella that you might carry with you on a rainy day. It is lightweight, can be taken anywhere, takes up almost no space, and expands easily on demand. That’s exactly what we need for solar energy collection. Removing the need for protective glass and aluminum framing is critical. Once we crack the flexibility challenge, the possibilities are endless.
Compared to other major sources of energy, research into photovoltaics has received little funding, and yet electricity from solar is now cheaper than coal, natural gas and nuclear across most of the US. We’ve only scratched the surface in the search for materials that could produce electricity from light. Watch the video to the right to see our synthesis of colloidal quantum dot, a new material showing promise in solar cells.
Watch the video to the left to hear about research in the lab and how solar energy can make fossil fuels obsolete.