News Release: NREL Solar Cell Wins Federal Technology Transfer Prize

May 7, 2009 | By Janice Rooney | Contact media relations

A new class of ultra-light, high-efficiency solar cells developed by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been awarded a national prize for the commercialization of federally funded research.

The Inverted Metamorphic Multijunction (IMM) Solar Cell was named a winner of the 2009 Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer by the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer.

The original IMM cell was invented by Mark Wanlass of NREL’s Concentrating Photovoltaics (CPV) Group. The design established a solar cell efficiency of 37.9% under concentrated light equal to 10 suns in 2005.  In 2008, a modified version of the IMM design set a new record of 40.8% efficiency under 326 suns at NREL.

Since 2005, NREL and Wanlass have worked with Emcore Corp of Albuquerque, N.M. to develop a commercial version of the IMM cell under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA.)

Commercialized versions of the IMM cell are aimed at the space satellite market and for use on Earth in concentrated photovoltaic arrays, which use lenses or mirrors to focus sunlight onto the solar cells.

Wanlass and Emcore's director of research and development Paul Sharps will receive the award at a ceremony on May 7 at the FLC national meeting in Charlotte, N.C.

Sharing the award is NREL's solar cell R&D team of Jeff Carapella, Anna Duda, Daniel Friedman, John Geisz, Sarah Kurtz, Bill McMahon, Tom Moriarty, Andrew Norman, Waldo Olavarria, Jerry Olson, Manuel Romero, Scott Ward, and Michelle Young.

The cell also won R&D 100 honors in two categories.

More about NREL’s photovoltaic research can be found at For more information on the FLC awards go to

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.