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News Release: CRSP Named to DOE Funded Energy Frontier Research Center

June 4, 2009

The Center for Revolutionary Solar Photoconversion (CRSP) will play an integral role in a new federally-funded effort to develop revolutionary solar cell designs at the nanoscale.

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the lead organization of CRSP, and will partner with Los Alamos National Laboratory and share in a $19 million grant over five years by the U.S. Department of Energy for a joint Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) named the Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics. Two universities that also belong to CRSP - the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Colorado School of Mines – will participate in the new EFRC as well.

This EFRC is CRSP's first federally supported research program and is a milestone in the center's development since it was launched by the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory in April, 2008.

 "I am very proud of the work we have accomplished in such a short time," said Dr. Arthur J. Nozik, Senior Research Fellow at NREL and the Scientific Director for CRSP. "This funding enables us to significantly extend our exploration into the fundamental nature of photoconversion and experiment with new approaches to producing clean energy.

 CRSP pursues advanced approaches to directly convert the sun's energy to clean, low-cost electricity and fuels, a research area called Solar Photoconversion.  The long-term goal of the CRSP is to produce electricity and solar fuels at costs competitive with energy produced from coal.

EFRCs are designed to take advantage of advanced research and instrumentation developed by DOE to focus on a variety of critical energy challenges and develop new energy technologies.

Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Science announced funding for 46 EFRCs in late April. The EFRCs are partially supported by funds made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. NREL is participating in seven of the 46 EFRCs.

 "Becoming a significant partner in one of DOE’s Energy Frontier Research Centers in such a brief period is an astounding achievement," said Collaboratory executive director David Hiller. "It reflects CRSP's development as one of the world’s most creative solar research centers.”

 The total award for the EFRC for advanced solar photophysics is for $19 million over five years. The Collaboratory will provide matching funds of at least $300,000 over three years. These matching funds were committed by the Colorado Renewable Energy Authority out of funds made available by the Colorado General Assembly in 2006 to help Colorado attract this type of major federal research funding for renewable energy.

The key to this new research is its emphasis on nanoscience to advance solar energy technologies.  A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. For comparison, 10 NM is 1000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Working at this scale allows scientists to control matter and develop new materials and structures with novel and powerful properties. This EFRC research will explore how nanoparticles interact with light and study nanometer-scale structures that precisely manipulate solar light absorption and electron movement. 

In addition to the Colorado-based research institutions participating in the EFRC, CRSP members also include Colorado State University and 14 corporations that provide yearly financial support through membership fees to address common research interests and conduct sponsored research activities.

CRSP's corporate members include Applied Materials, Inc., Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc., DuPont, Evident Technologies, Inc., Konarka Technologies, Inc., Lockheed Martin, Motech Industries Inc., QuantumSphere, Inc., Sharp Corporation, Solasta, Inc., Sub-One Technology and SunEdison, LLC, Toyota and General Motors.  All but Toyota and General Motors are founding members of CRSP.

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.


The media may also contact Paul Nelson of CRSP at 303-492-8025