Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies (QESST)

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Awardee: Arizona State University
Location: Tempe, AZ
Subprogram: Photovoltaics
SunShot Award Amount: $18,639,093
Total Award Amount: $34,950,000
Principal Investigator: Christiana Honsberg

QESST is an Engineering Research Center sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the SunShot Initiative and was launched in 2011. Based out of Arizona State University, QESST focuses on advancing photovoltaic (PV) science, technology, and education in order to transform the existing electricity generation system. The center’s primary research areas are silicon cells and modules, tandem PV cell architectures on traditional silicon utilizing thin-film or III-V absorbers, and improving the performance of PV using test beds that can demonstrate manufacturability, integration, and sustainability of solar technologies. In addition to this research, QESST develops solar and PV education programs for graduate and undergraduate students, K-12 students and teachers, as well as outreach programs for the general public. QESST is designed to set the solar industry on a path to terawatt levels of installed PV generation in 15 to 20 years.

Approach

QESST is developing new photovoltaic technologies that address the critical barriers to transforming electricity generation, including the sustainability of large quantities of PV on the grid. Faculty and researchers from multiple universities and scientists from world-renowned companies and start-ups are working together to develop innovative solutions to sustainable solar electricity generation. The team is working to improve the underlying material science, energy conversion processes, and advanced manufacturing approaches of PV technologies.

Objectives

QESST is working toward a future where PV provides the majority of all new U.S. electricity production. Through a path of interconnected technology and process advancements, QESST is implementing revolutionary new approaches to enhance performance, reduce cost, and enable new functionality. The team will advance material sciences relating to surfaces, interfaces and defects, photonics, energy conversion processes, advanced nanofabrication and characterization technologies, and new multifunctional energy conversion devices. This enables the PV industry to continue expanding production by developing technologies that support the scale-up of new devices into large-scale manufacturing. In addition, the education component of QESST teaches graduate and undergraduate students about the material science and processes behind the development of solar cells while enabling the study of yield and reliability. This includes the development of education materials that are available to university students and faculty across the country. The program also develops teacher training, programs to get children interested in solar, and performs outreach to the general public, which positively impacts the solar industry as a whole by supporting solar growth across the country.

Visit the QESST website to learn more about the program and see other competitive awards under SunShot’s PV subprogram.