Power Electronics

Grant Supports R&D on Plastic Solar Cells

Konarka Technologies, a developer and manufacturer of power plastics that convert light to energy, has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award will help fund Konarka's efforts to increase the performance of its light-activated power plastic.

"As part of our ongoing research and development activities, we're always looking for even better ways to harvest both natural and artificial light for conversion to electricity—the more light our materials respond to, the more power they'll put out," said Dr. Russell Gaudiana, vice president of research and development, Konarka. "This NSF grant will enable us to move forward on some promising advances we've seen in the labs."

Konarka is producing flexible, lightweight and versatile power plastic that makes it possible for devices, systems and structures to have their own low-cost embedded sources of renewable power. The goal of this NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project is to raise the performance of the company's dye-sensitized solar cell technology, including generating more electrical current and improving efficiency to 10% or higher. To do this, the company will enhance the ability of its dyes and additives to capture more of the solar spectrum. The grant is effective for two years.

"NSF's SBIR/STTR Electronics Technology program is committed to advancing solar cell technology as a renewable energy source and is supporting research to make solar cells more efficient and cost-effective," said T. James Rudd, program manager, NSF SBIR/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. "The Konarka technology promises good improvement in efficiency, and the proposed roll-to-roll manufacturing technique offers low-cost production possibilities."

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of nearly $5.47 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 40,000 competitive requests for funding and makes about 11,000 new funding awards. Through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, NSF provides more than $100 million to small companies for developing innovative new products and processes. The NSF also awards over $200 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

For more information, visit www.konarka.com.

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