Public Release: 

OU team receives $580K DOE EPSCoR grant

Researchers to develop more efficient solar 'photovoltaic' cells for conversion of heat to electricity

University of Oklahoma

A University of Oklahoma research team has been awarded a $580,000 grant from the Department of Energy's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research for the development of new interband cascade photovoltaic cells with important applications for more efficient use of solar energy and waste-heat recovery.

OU researchers Rui Q. Yang, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Michael B. Santos and Matthew B. Johnson, Physics and Astronomy, will collaborate with John F. Klem, Sandia National Laboratories, to demonstrate the concepts for the interband cascade photovoltaic cell devices with conversion efficiencies of 30 percent or higher.

A quantum-engineered approach will enable the cells to efficiently convert infrared radiation from the sun or other heat source to electricity. Researchers expect to achieve extensive understanding of fundamental aspects of the cell structures, develop the necessary knowledge for making the cells and demonstrate prototype or working photovoltaic cells.

The project will push photovoltaic technology to longer wavelengths allowing for relatively low-temperature thermal sources while generating new cutting-edge knowledge in the design and understanding of quantum semiconductor structures and devices.

The research team will complete tasks over a three-year period, which include design, modeling and optimization as well as growth of the structures and relevant segments, material characterization, prototype device fabrication and testing.

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