The DOE Bridging Research Interactions through collaborative Development Grants in Energy (BRIDGE) program funds collaborative research teams to significantly lower the cost of solar energy systems. The teams can access the tools and staff expertise at existing DOE Office of Science research facilities so fundamental scientific discoveries can be rapidly transitioned to existing product lines and projects.
The BRIDGE program provides engineers and scientists developing solar technologies with the tools and expertise of the Department's Office of Science research facilities, including major facilities for x-ray and neutron scattering, nanoscale science, advanced microcharacterization, environmental molecular sciences, and advanced scientific computing. This collaborative approach will accelerate innovations to lower the cost of solar technologies.
On August 29, 2012, DOE announced the following BRIDGE projects.
- Arizona State University (Phoenix, Arizona) — Funded with $854,999, ASU is focusing on in-situ x-ray nanocharacterization of defect kinetics in solar cell materials using facilities at Argonne National Laboratory.
- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, California) — DOE provided $900,000 in support of a collaborative effort between LLNL, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Nanosolar, and the University of Illinois to improve efficiencies of thin-film photovoltaics through rational design of wide band gap buffer layers.
- National Renewable Laboratory (Golden, Colorado) — Under this $300,000 award, NREL and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory are developing and characterizing a transparent emitter layer for CIGS solar cells through synchrotron investigations.
- PLANT PV (Berkeley, California) — With $450,000 from DOE, PLANT PV is using the capabilities at the Molecular Foundry at LBNL to research three-dimensional minority carrier lifetime mapping of thin film semiconductors for solar cell applications.
- Regents of the University of Colorado (Boulder, Colorado) — DOE awarded $476,250 for this project team to use Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) facilities to research using solid particles as heat transfer fluid for use in concentrating solar power (CSP) plants.
- Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, New Mexico) — With $900,000, Sandia is using the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT) facility to develop spectroscopic photoemission electron microscopy (PEEM). The project focuses on understanding nanoscale variations in the chemical and electronic structure of thin film photovoltaic materials and their limitations on photovoltaic device performance.
- Stanford University (Stanford, California) — A $899,000 award is helping this project team, which includes Cornell University and Konica Minolta, develop a roll-to-roll printing setup for highly efficient organic solar cells with significantly improved performance and low fabircation costs.
- Stanford University (Stanford, California) — With a $596,250 award, Stanford researchers are collaborating with Stanford Linear Accelerator Center to close the gap between production and laboratory efficiency using in-situ x-ray analysis of rapid thermal processing for thin-film solar cells.
- University of Illinois (Chicago, Illinois) — The University of Illinois at Chicago is working with Argonne National Laboratory under a $903,044 award to research how grain boundaries affect the efficiency of poly-CdTe solar cells. The team is performing a fundamental atomic-scale study of grain boundary dislocation cores using CdTe bi-crystal thin films.
- University of Oregon (Eugene, Oregon) — This $450,000 award brings together the University of Oregon and LBNL's Molecular Foundry to research vapor transport deposition technology for III-V solar materials.
- University of Texas at El Paso (El Paso, Texas) — This $895,908 award allows researchers at the University of Texas El Paso to use Los Alamos National Laboratory's Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies facility to create a new corroborative capability to work around fundamental barriers to achieving high open-circuit voltages in CdTe/CdS solar cells.
- University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah) — Working with the ORNL Center for Nanophase Materials Science, the University of Utah is exploring novel photon management techniques to enable commercially viable thin-film photovoltaics with efficiencies greater than 20%.