Arizona State University (ASU) will spearhead a new Engineering Research Center (ERC) aimed at creating high-efficiency solar technologies and manufacturing methods to increase solar energy uptake.

The ERC for Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies – or QESST – is one of four ERCs established by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), focusing on research into fields considered vital to America’s national interest.

With an initial budget of USD$18.5 million over five years, the QESST Centre will address the "stubborn" challenge of turning photovoltaic based solar power into a mainstream source of domestic power. 

Led by ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, a leader in the field of solar research; and working with teams from Caltech, MIT, the University of Delaware and the University of New Mexico, QESST members will strive to accelerate the pace of innovation in solar technology - from manufacturing processes, to sun capture and storage systems using quantum mechanics theory.

ASU says facilitating partnerships between research the lab and industry is central to QESST’s mission, and that more than 40 clean energy companies have pledged support for the new ERC, including manufacturers of solar panels, photovoltaic cells and installers of solar power systems.

QESST Director, and head of ASU’s Solar Power Lab, Christina Honsberg, says her leadership team has critical experience and skills in the renewable energy industry, an essential requirement if the centre is to fulfil its mission of making solar power a cheap and ubiquitous commodity. 

"An expanding global economy is bringing an unquenchable demand for more electrical power. It will become vital to progress throughout the 21st century to have the benefits of alternative energy sources that solar power can provide through photovoltaic technologies," Honsberg said.