U-M forges Korean partnership and industry to push solar technology to market
Mar. 2, 2010
ANN ARBOR, Mich. —A new international partnership positions two universities and a leading company to put low-cost solar cell technology on a fast track to market.
The University of Michigan is joining with Dankook University in South Korea and Korean government Ministry of Knowledge and Economy in a four-year research project to ramp up efficiency for organic photovoltaic technology (OPV) while driving down costs, said Stephen Forrest, U-M vice president for research and a lead scientist in the project.
OPV technology can be applied to virtually any surface using a room-temperature technique akin to spray painting and hold the promise of dramatically reduced production costs.
The highly flexible and ultra-thin OPVs will enable large-scale solar energy generation directly integrated into roofs, walls, building materials and even transparent windows in a variety of colors. Other innovative OPV products include sunshades and umbrellas covered with thin, flexible organic solar cells. OPVs also can be applied directly to laptops and communications devices.
The U-M team will continue to work closely with its commercial partner, Global Photonic Energy Corporation (GPEC) of Medford Lakes, NJ, to ensure rapid scaling and prototyping of promising technologies developed during the program’s course.
“Organic solar cell efficiencies are poised at the edge of a breakthrough. Due to our recent progress (in small molecule photovoltaics), we are confident that organic solar cell power conversion efficiencies of approximately 10 percent − and possibly as high as 20 percent − are within reach during the next few years. We will be building upon approaches that were developed in our labs at the University of Michigan to enable the necessary breakthroughs,” Forrest said.
The Korean collaboration will bring strong partnerships with key electronics company, positioning technology breakthroughs with the markets. Dankook University in addition to vibrant academic activities.
Dankook University, located near Seoul, hosts a student body of about 20,000 and employs about 800 faculty. This effort is supported by the local state government and large commercial interests.
“The work will engage researchers at Dankook University with students and faculty from Dankook University collaborating on site at the University of Michigan,” Forrest said. “In addition, University of Michigan students and faculty will also travel to Korea for similar collaborative exchanges.”
Forrest, who is vice president for research at U-M, is a fellow of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, which develops, coordinates and promotes multidisciplinary energy research and education at U-M. Forrest also is the principal research scientist at GPEC.