Associate 2008-09

John A Rogers

Materials Science & Engineering


Developing a low-cost, renewable source of energy is one of the most urgent and technically difficult challenges currently facing the world community. The abundance of solar energy makes it one of the most promising candidate solutions, but the photovoltaic technologies currently used to capture solar energy haven’t yet achieved a level of cost-efficiency that encourages their widespread use.

Professor Rogers’s research group will attempt to address this problem by developing ultrathin implementations of monocrystalline silicon in lightweight, mechanically flexible photovoltaic modules. Detailed cost-modeling studies indicate the potential for this approach to obtain costs of $0.33/Watt in high-volume production, less than half the U.S. Department of Energy’s target goal of $0.70/Watt. Another advantage to the thin geometries is that the lightweight, mechanically flexible designs are easy to transport and can be laminated against or wrapped around almost any surface (from buildings to interior walls to rooftops).

This research effort is coupled with the corporate activities of large and small companies. These collaborations will help to speed the transition from theoretical research to large-scale manufacturing.

As principal investigator, Professor Rogers will use his Center for Advanced Study appointment to launch this research effort. He will study the underlying physics and materials science of these unusual silicon solar cells and assess their broader economic and societal implications. He will also work toward fostering collaborations with industry groups.