US makes $12m available for solar cell research

The Foundation Program to Advance Cell Efficiency II (FPACEII) will offer project funding to teams from universities, national laboratories and industry in a bid to bridge the gap between the current highest efficiencies found in the lab and in production, and the theoretical solar cell limits set out by William Shockley and Hans Queisser in a seminal 1961 paper.

Shockley and Queisser predicted a maximum efficiency of around 30% for a single junction solar cell and the SunShot cash will fund research into a variety of cells including silicon-based technologies and thin film materials, such as cadmium telluride (CdTe) and cooper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS).

The original round of FPACE funding saw the Department of Energy award $35.8 million in grants to 13 institutions in September 2011.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory secured $11.2 million of grants for three projects and the University of Delaware $6.5 million for four projects under the scheme, which was aimed at bridging the gap between the best efficiencies found in the lab and in production. Funding for those schemes is due to expire in March.

Applicants for the latest round of SunShot funding have until March 7 to submit a letter of intent with full applications due by April 8.