Project Name: Quantum-Cutting Luminescent Coatings for High-Efficiency, Low-Cost Solar Cells
Funding Opportunity: Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 Funding Program (SETO FY2018)
SETO Research Area: Photovoltaics
Location: Seattle, WA
SETO Award Amount: $200,000
Awardee Cost Share: $50,000
Principal Investigator: Daniel Gamelin

-- Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations --

This project incorporates new materials into the photovoltaic (PV) cell production process that show the potential to enhance solar panel absorption capabilities and boost PV energy yields. These quantum cutting materials efficiently lower the energy of photons sourced from the sun so less energy is lost when absorbed by solar panels and converted into electrical energy. The research team will explore the use of different thin-film deposition methods and heat treatments, then characterize the properties of the film to determine the best processing route. The team will evaluate these findings and incorporate the use of mathematical models to predict the viability of integrating these films with commercially-available solar cells.


The research team is investigating the use of ytterbium, tin, and germanium in various compositions as material coatings on panel surfaces of commercial solar cells. The team will investigate different deposition methods and heat treatment schedules, then study the film’s effectiveness to determine the best synthesis technique. Characterization tools such as X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy will allow the team to assess the film properties, while cost models will provide estimates associated with processing methods and material usage costs. Together, these will inform the best-case recommendation for low-cost, large-scale quantum cutting film deposition on commercial cells.


This research centers on developing new material technologies that mitigate energy losses during energy conversion, which will lead to increases in cell power output. By exploring the use of new, high–performance materials to integrate into the manufacturing processes of traditional PV solar cells, the team will better understand cell performance limitations and the influence of different factors to achieve the desired results. The outcome of this work will help to drive research and development efforts toward low-cost, high-efficiency PV cells.