--These projects are inactive--

Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS) is a part of the Photovoltaic Research and Development (PVRD) funding program, which is focused on improving the power conversion efficiency, fielded energy output, service lifetime, and manufacturability of commercial and emerging photovoltaic (PV) technologies. SIPS is dedicated to small, single-year projects focused on novel and/or emerging areas of PV research that have the potential to produce dramatic progress towards a solar levelized cost of energy of $0.02-0.03/kWh by 2030. This is one of our first funding opportunities that looks to a post-2020 goal.

SIPS awards were announced on July 28, 2016. Read the press release.


SIPS selects high-risk single-year PV research and development projects that demonstrate the potential for expanded work in novel or emerging areas of PV research. It is designed to allow researchers to prove a concept and develop data to support further research. This approach allows researchers to take a year to lay the groundwork for a larger scale project and demonstrate that the ideas merit greater investment. 


Improvements to nearly every aspect of module design from layup geometry to choice of encapsulant can help to lower the cost of solar energy. These projects will develop an accurate understanding of the optical, thermal, and electrical concerns associated with the performance of completed modules, which is an important part of the process of transferring laboratory-scale cell technologies to full-size manufacturing of modules.


Case Western Reserve University

Project Name: Interfacial Work Function Modifiers in PV: A Potentially Disruptive Science for Extreme Lifetime Performance
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Award Amount: $165,775
Awardee Cost Share: $21,225
Project Summary: This project investigates the impact of surface modification of the transparent electrode in thin film copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar cells on improving the reliability. The modification with a molecular surface modifier will limit chemical exposure of the cell to water and acetic acid from the breakdown of ethylene-vinyl-acetate (EVA) encapsulants. The modification is expected to double the lifetime of the cell.

University of Oregon

Project Name: Low-Cost III-V Photovoltaic Materials by Chloride Vapor Transport Deposition Using Safe Solid Precursors
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Award Amount: $225,000
Awardee Cost Share: $56,486
Project Summary: This project focuses on increasing manufacturability of multijunction III-V photovoltaics (PV) through the use of a new carrier gas in a close-space vapor transport deposition system. Through the use of safe, inexpensive sources, precursors to the absorber material will be generated in the growth chamber, which will produce a system that is anticipated to deliver a process with high materials utilization and fast growth of III-V materials.

University of Florida

Project Name: Single-Junction Organic Solar Cells with 15% Efficiency
Location: Gainesville, Florida
Award Amount: $225,000
Awardee Cost Share: $25,000
Project Summary: This project aims to direct the nanoscale morphology in a low band gap molecular absorber through hydrogen bonding. By controlling the nanoscale morphology, researchers can increase energy output in organic solar cells. Improving charge transport through the control of nanoscale morphology is a significant barrier for substantial increases in conversion efficiency in organic solar cells.

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Project Name: Aluminum Epilayers for Controlled Growth and Processing of High-Efficiency, Low-Cost III-V Solar Cells
Location: Rapid City, South Dakota
Award Amount: $179,003
Awardee Cost Share: $26,356
Project Summary: This project utilizes a crystalline aluminum sacrificial layer in the epitaxial growth of lattice matched III-V absorber materials for substrate reuse. The aluminum layer will then be quickly and inexpensively removed, resulting in thin film III-V growth from reusable substrates. It is anticipated that this demonstration would dramatically reduce the cost of III-V based solar cells.

University at Buffalo, the State University of New York

Project Name: Green, Stable and Earth Abundant Ionic Photovoltaic Absorbers Based on Chalcogenide Perovskite
Location: Buffalo, New York
Award Amount: $224,814
Awardee Cost Share: $60,657
Project Summary: This project aims to accelerate the development of green, stable, and earth abundant ionic photovoltaic (PV) absorbers based on chalcogenide perovskite materials. These nontoxic, earth-abundant compounds have electronic properties that make them ideal for cultivating energy from the sun. The materials will be incorporated into solar cells as thin films that absorb and convert sunlight into usable electricity.

Colorado State University

Project Name: Novel Approach to Front-Contact Passivation for Cadmium Telluride Photovoltaics
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
Award Amount: $150,000
Awardee Cost Share: $16,667
Project Summary: This project aims to develop front contact passivation for cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaics (PV) through the use of patterned insulating oxides. The result will create much-needed improvements in open circuit voltage through both contact passivation effects and decreased heterojunction area.

University of Colorado Boulder

Project Name: Theoretical Design and Discovery of the Most Promising Previously Overlooked Hybrid Perovskites Compounds
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Award Amount: $225,000
Awardee Cost Share: $25,000
Project Summary: This project uses theoretical design to discover promising prospects for stable and lead-free hybrid perovskite compounds. Through materials design, the work aims to improve trial-and-error approaches to materials optimization through the computational evaluation of new material compositions and their optical and electronic properties.

Arizona State University

Project Name: A New Class of Tandems: Optically Coupled III-V/Silicon Module with Outdoor Efficiency Exceeding 30%
Location: Tempe, Arizona
SunShot Award Amount: $213,335
Awardee Cost Share: $23,730
Project Summary: This project utilizes a new class of tandem solar module to optically couple III-V and silicon cells into a module with outdoor efficiency exceeding 30%. In the proposed system, low-energy light will be collected and converted using silicon cells with the high-energy light being reflected and concentrated using a dichroic mirror onto a III-V cell. The system decouples the tandem components and utilizes concentration to increase the system efficiency and decrease the cost of energy.

nLiten Energy Corporation

Project Name: Low‐Cost Nanostructured Substrates for Efficient Epitaxial Lift‐Off of III‐V Solar Cells
Location: Mountain View, California
Award Amount: $159,939
Awardee Cost Share: $40,038
Project Summary: This project aims to significantly decrease the cost of epitaxially grown III-V solar cells through the use of low-cost, nanostructured substrates for efficient epitaxial lift-off of III-V thin films. The nanostructured array will serve as the sacrificial layer to enable the low-cost growth of thin film III-V solar cells.

Arizona State University

Project Name: Sound Assisted Low Temperature Spalling for Low Cost Silicon
Location: Tempe, Arizona
Award Amount: $179,284
Awardee Cost Share: $19,930
Project Summary: This project is evaluating and developing a method for sound-assisted low temperature (SALT) spalling to enable low-cost silicon wafers. This disruptive technology cuts silicon wafers without kerf losses, which results in high-quality silicon wafers at twice the yield and half of the cost of traditional wafering methods.

Learn more about SETO's other funding programs.