SDSU solar research supported by regents, industry grantsBROOKINGS — South Dakota State University photovoltaic research to develop devices that reduce greenhouse gas and other environmental pollutant emissions received a boost from a $200,000 Board of Regents grant awarded for research that already leveraged industry matching support.
By: News release, South Dakota State University
BROOKINGS — South Dakota State University photovoltaic research to develop devices that reduce greenhouse gas and other environmental pollutant emissions received a boost from a $200,000 Board of Regents grant awarded for research that already leveraged industry matching support.
“Photovoltaic, commonly known as PV, devices directly convert sunlight into electricity,” said Qi Hua Fan, principal investigator and associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at SDSU. “The availability of high-efficiency, low-cost PV devices is critical to our nation’s future clean, renewable energy infrastructure.”
Strong support of the regents and SDSU has allowed collaboration with an industry partner to develop an innovative plasma technology.
Fan is joined by co-principal investigators David Galipeau, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and Zhong Hu, associate professor of mechanical engineering, to develop high-density, plasma-based, thin-film deposition technology. Their research will provide exponential opportunities for students to explore new materials and processes.
Plasma technology is widely used in manufacturing semiconductor integrated circuits, flat panel displays and flexible electronics. SDSU researchers have been working to establish a novel magnetically enhanced plasma system capable of producing high density plasma that is two to three times greater in magnitude than current dominant technologies. The BOR grant will enable SDSU researchers to explore high-efficiency solar cells that use better quality, thin-film silicon materials produced by the new plasma technology.
SDSU has engaged in numerous projects that use photovoltaic materials and devices. In order for such devices to produce sustainable energy, they must use materials that are abundantly available and environmentally benign. Performance and cost of materials needed to make the devices must also be competitive.
Because no fuels are used for combustion to generate electricity from PV technologies, emissions associated to create electricity are minimal. Thin-film silicon-based solar cells are among the most promising ways to produce sustainable, affordable electricity. BOR and industry grants will help SDSU researchers develop technology to make solar cells more efficient and cost effective.