Collaborations with industry aim to boost solar energy technology

January 13, 2015

Two Arizona State University engineers – Mariana Bertoni and Stuart Bowden – will have roles partnering with industry as part of an effort by the U.S. Department of Energy to aid photovoltaic manufacturing and supply-chain companies in advancing their technologies.

Their projects are among research and development endeavors the Department of Energy is supporting through its SunShot Solar Manufacturing 2 program, which is providing more than $24 million to 10 solar energy technology manufacturers based in the United States. Bertoni solar panel Download Full Image

The program supports development of innovative technology for novel manufacturing equipment and processes that will reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Bertoni, an assistant professor, and Bowden, an associate research professor, are faculty members in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. They both also are Senior Sustainability Scientists in the Global Institute of Sustainability.

Bertoni will work with SolarWorld Industries America Inc. to develop technology for a novel silicon ingot growth, the process by which the material for solar cells is manufactured. Funding from the Department of Energy will help transition SolarWorld’s proprietary NeoGrowth manufacturing process from pilot stage into early-stage production.

SolarWorld is the largest U.S. solar panel manufacturer and one of the world's largest solar-technology producers, headquartered in Hillsboro, Oregon.

The project will upscale the NeoGrowth production capacity to 300 megawatts of high-quality silicon wafers at a cost that is competitive with wafers on the open market.

Bertoni will identify the most detrimental defects present in the new crystals grown by SolarWorld and analyze the impact of the crystals on the performance of solar cells. The results will help SolarWorld optimize growth conditions to minimize as-grown defects and maximize the power-conversion efficiency of the final solar cells.

“This technology has the potential to revolutionize the wafer manufacturing industry by increasing throughput and quality when compared to current market technologies,” she said.

Bowden will work with Technic Inc. to eliminate the use of silver in the manufacturing of solar energy cells, and replace it with copper, a more abundant and less costly material. The goal is to develop a copper-plating technique that will reduce the cost of making solar cells without a decrease in performance quality.

Technic Inc. has established a global reputation for technical excellence in the electro-deposition of precious metals. It has more than 20 global facilities in 14 countries and is headquartered in Cranston, Rhode Island.

The solar photovoltaic industry presently uses 15 percent of the world’s silver supply. Replacing it with copper will allow the industry to grow by a huge magnitude and work at terawatt levels, Bowden said.

For his project, an ASU research facility will house the first installation of machinery for the new copper-plating process that will enable production of industrial-scale solar cells that do not require silver.

The two projects “demonstrate ASU’s leadership in collaborating with industry partners to bring new technologies out of the lab and into the market,” Bowden said.

A grant of $4 million to SolarWorld Industries America includes $400,000 for Bertoni’s research.

A $900,000 grant to Technic Inc. allocates $400,000 for Bowden’s research.

The projects boost ASU’s growing research activity in photovoltaic technologies for solar energy generation.

The largest part of that research portfolio is the Engineering Research Center for Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies – or QESST – supported by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy to solve technological and economic challenges to harnessing solar power on larger scales. Read more.

Bertoni and Bowden are part of the QESST research team.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


World-famous artists and curators come to Phoenix for ASU School of Art’s Visiting Artist/Scholar Series

January 13, 2015

Tempe, Ariz. – The Arizona State University School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts announces its Spring 2015 Lecture Series, featuring internationally renowned artists and curators whose work reflects the most pressing issues of our times. Lecturers from as far away as Vietnam and Palestine will share work in a range of media and styles, from needlepoint to iPhone apps.

All lectures are free and open to the public. Most lectures will be held in ASU’s new graduate studios at 603 E. Grant St. in downtown Phoenix. Locations, times and artist information are posted online at Download Full Image

Questions about the series can be directed to Hilary Harp at 412.860.3296 or The schedule and artist briefs follow.

Ricardo Dominguez: Jan. 22 
Ricardo Dominguez is a co-founder of The Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT). His recent project, the Transborder Immigrant Tool (a GPS cell phone safety net tool for crossing the Mexico/U.S. border), won the Transnational Communities Award.

Afghan War Rugs panel: Jan. 29 (in collaboration with Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art)
Join Dr. Annemarie Sawkins, exhibition curator; Erika Lynne Hanson, fibers artist and assistant professor at Arizona State University; and Claire C. Carter, SMoCA curator, as they consider the complex origins and growing popularity of war rug motifs since the 1980s.

L.J. Roberts: Feb. 5 
L.J. Roberts’ studio practice primarily consists of large-scale site-specific knitted installations and detailed embroideries that explore the intersections of feminist queer and trans politics.

Pepón Osorio: Feb. 26 
Pepón Osorio, best known for large-scale installations, was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, in 1955. Osorio’s pieces, influenced by his experience as a social worker in the Bronx, usually evolve from an interaction with the neighborhoods and people among which he is working.

Allison Smith: March 5 
Allison Smith’s diverse practice investigates the cultural phenomenon of historical reenactment and the role of craft in the construction of national identity.

Emily Jacir: March 19 
Palestinian artist Emily Jacir is best known for presenting issues related to transformation, questions of translation, resistance and the logic of the archive.

Dinh Q. Lê: March 26 
Dinh Q. Lê uses documentary video, animation and photography to explore the history and people of his native Vietnam, usually set against impressions and representations from America.

Anne Rorimer: April 2 
Anne Rorimer is an influential curator and author who served as curator of contemporary art at both the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo, N.Y., and the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author most recently of “Michael Asher: Kunsthalle Bern, 1992” (Afterall, 2012).

Media Contact:
Deborah Sussman Susser