Researchers at U of L win $1 million award

By Matthew Keck–

University of Louisville researchers were awarded $1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Technologies Office (SETO). SETO awarded the U of L Conn Center researchers this money to advance photovoltaics (PV) research and development at their center for renewable energy research.

The award is in lieu of them reimagining the newspaper printing press to significantly reduce the cost of solar energy. Conn Center researchers are working on a project focused on thin film solar cell production using a roll-to-roll platform like newspapers, according to the release.

Thad Druffel, senior research engineer and theme leader at U of L, said, “This technology roll can revitalize a declining printing industry and boost a growing solar industry.” Druffel said that their goal is to ultimately reduce the cost of manufacturing drastically.

The Conn Center researchers recently developed commercially relevant perovskite solar cells, which are used to harvest light energy. It is these cells that won U of L researchers their award, but will be responsible for reducing energy costs. The work of the Conn Center researchers is published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

President Neeli Bendapudi said, “This is a shining example of how U of L is addressing the most important needs in our society.” With U of L receiving a Gold STARS rating last week, this is another step in the right direction for sustainability on campus.

Other staff that helped develop this technology were chemistry professor Craig Grapperhaus and associate chemical engineering professor Delaina Amos.

SETO seeks to support early-stage research to improve solar technologies on the grid. This $1 million award is more like an investment for them and in U of L’s future projects in this area.

This award allows the Conn Center to continue with their research and development of renewable and energy efficient products.

Photo Courtesy of Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research

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