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  • Konarka to Develop Photovoltaic Cell Materials
Feb 2004
LOWELL, Mass., Feb. 17 -- Konarka Technologies Inc., a maker of products that convert light to energy, announced it will receive $6 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to research and develop new materials for hybrid photovoltaic cells.

Konarka will manage the contract and will share the award over five years with research and development partners including Arizona State University; National Renewable Energy Laboratory; the University of Delaware; the University of Massachusetts, Lowell; and US Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick.

DARPA is the central research and development organization for the US Department of Defense. Konarka said DARPA is particularly interested in photovoltaic applications that may provide dramatic advances for traditional military roles and missions. Potential military applications for hybrid photovoltaic cells include battery charging on the battlefield, remote power for soldiers and unmanned vehicles and solar-powered sensor networks.

Hybrid cells are at the intersection of dye-sensitized cells developed by Michael Graetzel and polymer cells developed by Alan Heeger. According to Heeger, a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2000, "New materials and their manipulation into new morphologies will be required in order to achieve significantly higher levels of performance. Konarka is heading up a team that is at the leading edge of photovoltaic technology."

Russell Gaudiana, vice president of research and development at Konarka Technologies, said the funding will accelerate the development of hybrid cells that turn light into electricity with an estimated efficiency of more than 20 percent, which is a significan improvement over existing cells.

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