Collaboratory funds 12 new solar research projects

Golden, CO, Oct. 15, 2008 — The Center for Revolutionary Solar Photoconversion (CRSP) is launching 12 novel solar research projects totaling more than $1.1 million in its inaugural round of research and development funding.

CRSP is the newest research center of the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory. The center concentrates on ways to directly convert the sun’s energy to electricity and fuels, a research area called Solar Photoconversion.

The 12 CRSP projects will be funded for up to two years by contributions from CRSP’s corporate members and matching funds from the State of Colorado. Nine projects will begin in the fall of 2008 and three will begin in January 2009. Eight of the 12 projects will receive $100,000, while the rest will receive between $75,000 and $99,818 for a total of $1,168,711.

The four Collaboratory institutions are the Colorado School of Mines (CSM), the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU), Colorado State University (CSU) and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Six of the 12 projects include NREL researchers. CSM and CSU are included in four projects apiece and CU shares in three projects. The University of Wyoming also is participating in one project.

The projects were selected from a total of 31 applications said NREL senior research fellow Arthur Nozik, who serves as scientific director of CRSP.

“These projects represent the leading edge of research into both new ways to generate electricity and liquid and gaseous fuels directly from the sun and improving our approaches toward these goals,” Nozik said.

“Exploring the fundamental nature and performance of advanced photoconversion materials and experimenting with new approaches are essential if we are to greatly increase the efficiency and lower the cost of solar photon conversion and decrease our reliance on fossil fuels,” he said.

The 12 projects are funded under the center’s shared research program, in which CRSP corporate members participate in a review panel that selects pre-competitive shared research projects. Corporate members receive non-exclusive licenses to any resulting intellectual property. The program is designed to leverage the intellectual property to develop large-scale proprietary research for CRSP member companies, and help the technologies efficiently enter the marketplace for commercial use.

CRSP also is pursuing federal grants that could initiate additional basic or applied research that advances solar energy in novel ways.

CRSP was launched in April, 2008 to conduct basic and applied research that will lead to the development of new solar energy technologies or advance existing systems for direct solar energy conversion that will be both highly efficient and cost-effective to produce.

The center also supports education and research opportunities to develop the workforce to support the new energy economy.

Fourteen companies now belong to CRSP: Applied Materials Inc., Ascent Solar Technologies, DuPont, Evident Technologies, General Motors, Konarka, Lockheed Martin, Motech Industries, QuantumSphere, Sharp, Solasta, Sub-One Technology, SunEdison and Toyota.

The 12 selected solar projects are:

* Integrated electrical and optical characterization of silicon thin films — NREL and CSM, $99,818;
* Redox-tunable polymers for OPV active layers — NREL and CSU, $100,000;
* Group IV nanowire photovoltaics — CSM, $100,000;
* InVitro evolution of RNA-inorganic catalysts for the conversion of CO2 to alcohols — CU, $100,000;
* Optimizing Cu2ZnSnS4-based photovoltaic devices for thin films — CSU and Wyoming, $75,000;
* Group IV quantum dots for 3rd generation photovoltaics — NREL and CU, $95,000.
* Probing critical interfaces in 2nd and 3rd generation photovoltaics with nonlinear optics — NREL and CU, $100,000;
* Spatially-resolved spectroscopic studies of small ordered crystals of semiconductor nanocrystals — NREL and CSU, $100,000;
* Nanoscale engineering of functional metal oxides for photocatalysts and photovoltaics — CSM, $98,893;
* Plasma processing for improved understanding and control of film properties and interfaces with organic/polymeric/hybrid solar cells — CSU, $100,000;
* Fundamental studies of polyoxometallage-based nano-materials for photoelectrochemical water splitting — NREL and CSM, $100,000.
* Development of an economical catalyst for water oxidation (solar fuels) — CU, $100,000.

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