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UToledo physicist awarded $1.1 million to boost performance of solar cells

A physicist at The University of Toledo was awarded a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop ultra-high efficiency solar cells that accelerate the conversion of the sun’s energy into electricity.

Dr. Yanfa Yan, professor of physics, is teaming up with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on the photovoltaics project to create what are referred to as all-perovskite tandem solar cells that would have a higher conversion efficiency and lower cost.

Yan

While the majority of solar panels based on polycrystalline absorber materials on the market today have about a 16 percent efficiency rating, Yan’s goal is to raise the bar by creating a cell with more than 25 percent efficiency.

“We are excited about this opportunity and eager to collaborate with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to push the performance of solar cells to a higher level and make contributions to the U.S. Department of Energy’s clean energy goal,” Yan said.

Yan’s work is one of 25 projects recently awarded a total of $28 million in federal funding by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, which supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability and performance of solar technologies on the grid.

“This $1.1 million award recognizes The University of Toledo as a national leader in photovoltaics research,” Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur said. “This is part of an effort to innovate toward a cleaner energy future. With First Solar’s footprint in northwest Ohio and the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization at The University of Toledo, Toledo is a hotbed for clean energy and photovoltaics research. This is another success story for northwest Ohio’s green energy economy.”

Yan is one of the leaders of UToledo’s area of excellence in solar energy, water quality and sustainable technologies.

“I am delighted about Dr. Yanfa Yan’s continuing success in advancing his research on perovskite solar cells,” UToledo Vice President for Research Frank Calzonetti said. “Building upon his remarkably impressive publication record in solar energy science, this award confirms the quality and importance of his research and provides him and his collaborators funding to develop techniques to increase the power conversion efficiency of these cells up to 28 percent.”