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Iowa Power Fund advances researcher’s long quest for efficient solar power
Date:2/17/2009

AMES, Iowa In Vikram Dalal's 37 years of researching solar technology, the efficiency of thin film solar cells for homes and buildings has improved from 1 percent to about 7 percent.

Dalal, the Thomas M. Whitney Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University and director of the university's Microelectronics Research Center, is hoping his latest multidisciplinary research project could boost that efficiency to about 10 percent.

That would mean better solar cell technology that could be patented and licensed by Iowa State, a competitive edge for an Ames-based company collaborating on the project and clean, green energy for all of us.

The three-year research project is supported by a $1.69 million grant from the Iowa Power Fund, a state program to support energy innovation and independence. The project supports the work of Dalal and six other Iowa State faculty members plus eight graduate students. The Iowa Energy Center is also supporting some of Dalal's solar research and he expects that work to contribute to the power fund project.

"We are very excited about this project," said Dalal. "We want to help Iowa become a major producer of solar products that can be sold all over the world. That's what I want do to. I want to help Iowa companies become world-class producers of solar technology."

The project has three primary goals:

Study, characterize and optimize new silicon alloys that can be used in photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight directly into electricity. Dalal said as new materials are developed, researchers have to figure out how they can be used in solar applications.

Develop new solar cell structures that optimize the performance of the new materials. Dalal said there is no universal design for solar devices and so new materials mean new structures.

And, study how semiconductors based on organic molecules can be used in solar applications. Dala
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Contact: Vikram Dalal
vdalal@iastate.edu
515-294-1077
Iowa State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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