Public Release: 

Stevens researcher receives NSF CAREER Award to develop portable solar panels

Stephanie Lee has been awarded one of NSF's most prestigious awards for her work in making solar panels portable, affordable and easy to manufacture

Stevens Institute of Technology

Stephanie Lee, an assistant professor at Stevens Institute of Technology, was honored with a 2019 CAREER Award by the National Science Foundation to fund her research in engineering green, portable and cost efficient solar panels and other power sources.

The NSF's CAREER program, established in 1995, offers the award in support of early-career faculty who are distinguishing themselves as leaders and role models in their respective fields. With the CAREER Award, Lee has been granted $500,000 over the next five years to fund her research in making green energy portable and cost effective.

"It is my mission to develop technologies that will generate electricity to meet the growing energy demand without having a negative impact on our environment," said Lee. "This recognition from the NSF brings me that much closer to achieving this goal and I am extremely fortunate to receive the funding that will help my team make substantial developments in this space."

Lee was granted the award for her work in alternative materials to harvest sunlight compared to traditional silicon solar panels that are typically heavy, brittle and expensive to manufacture. Lee and her team are reimagining the materials and processes used to build light and portable solar panels, while also trying to improve their energy conversion rate through crystal engineering.

Lee and students in the LEE Lab are using carbon-based molecules that convert photons that travel from the sun to electricity. These molecules can then be spread across a thin plastic film to create flexible panels that can be rolled up and easily installed on any surface of a home, from roofs to windows. This method also allows panels to be created quickly and effectively, significantly lowering the costs associated with production.

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In addition to Lee, several other Stevens faculty members have received the highly competitive CAREER Award for their innovative research. Previous recipients of the award include computer science professor Samantha Kleinberg, electrical and computer engineering professor Negar Tavassolian and mechanical engineering professors Frank Fisher, Brendan Englot and Robert Chang.

About Stevens Institute of Technology

Stevens Institute of Technology is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, New Jersey overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Since our founding in 1870, technological innovation has always been the hallmark and legacy of Stevens' education and research. Within the university's three schools and one college, 6,900 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate closely with faculty in an interdisciplinary, student-centric, entrepreneurial environment. Academic and research programs spanning business, computing, engineering, the arts and other fields actively advance the frontiers of science and leverage technology to confront our most pressing global challenges. The university is consistently ranked among the nation's elite for return on tuition investment, career services and the mid-career salaries of alumni.

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