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ASU embarks on NSF grant for Nanotechnology Solar Energy Initiative

ASU scientists Rudy Diaz and Stuart Lindsay will lead a research group on a three-year, $1.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation for an innovative project designed to break through the current technological hurdles of solar energy.

Today's solar panels, made up of thousands of individual solar cells, are extremely inefficient and costly to produce, limiting Sunbelt states like Arizona from fully utilizing its most abundant renewable energy resource.

"Over the past decade, ASU has quietly reassembled one of the most comprehensive portfolios of solar-related research programs in the world," says Jonathan Fink, vice-president of ASU's Office of Research and Economic Affairs. "This new award is a prime example of ASU's interdisciplinary approach to solar research and uncovering new ways to better harness, create and utilize solar energy."

Diaz and Lindsay have assembled a group of scientists across ASU into a NSF-funded Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team. Diaz is an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and WINTech/Connection One in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, and Lindsay is a professor of physics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and director of the Biodesign Institute's Center for Single Molecule Biophysics.

The team's goal is to create tiny, nanoscale devices for higher efficiency solar energy and photonics applications. This so-called 'bottom up' approach to nanotechnology promises to take on the challenges of solar energy research by building devices atom by atom at a scale a thousand times finer than the width of a human hair.

In every solar cell, light energy, measured in the billions of photons that hit a square centimeter patch of the cell every second, is converted to electricity. But even the most advanced solar cells can only harness 10 to 30 percent of the available sunlight energy. The majority of the energy is lost, and simply esca
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Contact: Joe Caspermeyer
joseph.caspermeyer@asu.edu
480-727-0369
Arizona State University
16-Oct-2006


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