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Lehigh’s Strandwitz Receives DoE Grant for Photovoltaic Research

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BETHLEHEM, Pa., Oct. 4, 2017 — Lehigh University materials scientist Nicholas Strandwitz has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative to explore a promising silicon fabrication technique.

Strandwitz was awarded the grant as part of the initiative’s Photovoltaics Research and Development 2 funding program, which seeks to transform photovoltaic module design, explore high-risk emerging technology research, and  investigate devices and designs that facilitate rapid solar installation. Projects under this program will investigate new solar technology innovations that have the potential to make solar power affordable throughout the U.S.

Strandwitz will explore a promising technique to manufacture solar cells using atomic layer deposited (ALD) thin tunnel barriers that electrons can tunnel through. He and his team will quantify the electronic behavior of silicon cells made with this ALD tunnel barrier combined with metal oxide materials that selectively transport electrons with specific energies. The creation of thin-film layers and interfaces with the proper electronic properties can result in high-efficiency photovoltaics while decreasing the cost of production.

"Controlling interfaces and directing electron flow is essential for creating efficient solar cells," Strandwitz said. "ALD can grow 1-nm-thick films very reliably, making it a controllable and scalable way to control the properties of the silicon surface," says Strandwitz. "This ALD fabrication technique could make next-generation solar cells more efficient and, ultimately, more inexpensive to manufacture."

The SunShot Initiative is a national effort to drive down the cost of solar electricity and support solar adoption.
Oct 2017
BusinessNicholas StrandwitzDepartment of EnergysiliconmaterialsgrantsawardsphotovoltaicsAmericas

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