WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it will invest $21.7 million in researching the next generation of photovoltaic (PV) solar cell technology. DOE selected a total of 25 research projects, led by 15 universities and 6 companies, to receive an average of $900,000 over the next three years. The research projects will employ nanotechnologies, dyes, organic solar cells, multiple-layer solar cells, and unique manufacturing techniques in their attempts to create the next generation of solar cells. By 2015, the effort is expected to yield prototype cells and processes, which may be available for commercialization shortly thereafter.
Among the DOE awardees is Wakonda Technologies Inc., a company that plans to produce large-area, high-efficiency solar devices by applying multiple thin films of semiconductor material onto a flexible metal-foil substrate. Wakonda Technologies claims to have developed a proprietary surface treatment that allows the metal foil to simulate an expensive crystalline semiconductor material, such as germanium. The company plans to exploit this technology with a process that employs low-cost thin-film manufacturing techniques to create high-efficiency solar cells.