Green Building Alliance Funds Research on High Efficiency, Low Cost Solar Cells

One of today’s greatest engineering challenges is the development of alternative energy solutions. Researchers in the Villanova College of Engineering are looking at the problem of designing solar cells that can be used on roofs, which have a relatively low area of coverage for a solar panel. Because the area of coverage is small, there is not enough energy produced to justify the cost of the installation. The low surface area requires a solar cell design that is both more efficient than traditional cells and that is also relatively inexpensive to manufacture yet can be durable for many years.

The solution to this problem is being sought by a research team headed by Dr. Pritpal Singh, Chair of the Department Electrical and Computer Engineering and including graduate and undergraduate student researchers. They are working on thin-film super lattice solar cells comprised of periodically alternating layers of thin-film semiconductors. This group has been recognized for the quality and promise of their research through a grant of $20,000 from the Green Building Alliance to research the development of solar cells. The grant will enable the Villanova researchers to produce a proof of concept for their design. Dr. Singh’s team will also be presenting a paper on their research at the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Photovoltaic Specialists Conference in May. Dr. Singh’s research in solar cells has also been funded in the past by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, a Keystone Innovation Grant, and the Conti Enterprises Company.