Research Update

Research Update: Solar Panels Ideal for Cloudy Climates?

When it comes to solar energy research it’s better not to be self-absorbed according to researchers at the University of Washington and Western Washington University.

Researchers at UW’s Clean Energy Institute have developed a luminescent solar concentrator that absorbs light over a large area then re-emits it. The concentrator directs light to photovoltaic cells on the edge of the glass layer, which is then converted into electricity. The process, which eliminates so-called self-absorbson, or the tendency of the luminescent dyes to absorb their own light, is known as “doping” quantum dots. It could lead to a system of solar panels and window coatings ideal for cloudier climates.

Read more about this process developed in Prof. Daniel Gamelin’s lab in conjunction with Prof. David Patrick of Western Washington University (WWU): “Doped semiconductor nanocrystals boost solar concentrators” in (Photo courtesy D. Patrick.)

Meantime, this joint research between the two universities was demonstrated by a student team from Western Washington University, which took the $5,000 Clean Tech Prize and the $5,000 second place prize at the recent UW Environmental Innovation Challenge. The Nova Solar Window team is pictured here with  Alex Jen, CEI Chief Scientist for Science & Technology Integration. Read more

UW Environmental Innovation Challenge Winners

UW Environmental Innovation Challenge Winners with CEI’s Alex Jen


“Providing clean energy to the inhabitants of our planet is a major challenge to future generations. The University of Washington is to be congratulated for establishing an Institute where faculty and students can work together to tackle the difficult global challenge of energy sustainability.”
– Mildred Dresselhaus, Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering, Emerita and Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“Energy competition is opening up in a variety of ways, the push for carbon control will continue, and the rate of technology advancement is exponential. All the things I’ve seen at the CEI are just perfect for the way we see things going in energy. You guys are at the cutting edge. We’re counting on you.”
– Ronald Litzinger, President, Edison Energy