The funding will go to 25 projects at 15 universities and 6 companies – each award averages $900,000 over three years.

According to the Department of Energy, the resulting device and manufacturing-process research is expected to produce prototype cells and/or processes by 2015, with the potential for full commercialization following shortly afterwards.

The university recipients are: Arizona State University, for work on new materials for tandem thinfilm solar cells and on finding cheaper materials; California Institute of Technology, which will aim to enhance solar absorption using plasmons; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to enable conventional solar cells to use more of the sun’s energy by adding a new layer; Pennsylvania State University, which will seek better electrodes and electrolytes for dye-based sensitized solar cells; Rochester Institute of Technology, for work on solar-concentrator applications using high-efficiency nanostructures; Stanford University, for developing nanowire-based electrodes for solution-processed photovoltaics; University of California, Davis, for organic photovoltaics containing multiple-layer polymer films; University of California, San Diego, which will work on cells combining plasmonics and semiconductor nanostructures; University of Colorado for cheap and efficient solar cells using dye molecules; University of Delaware, for laser processing to control defects in polycrystalline tandem solar cells; University of Florida, which will develop tandem photovoltaics from inorganic nanorods in a polymer matrix; University of Illinois, for cheap concentrator photovoltaics from automated printing and the interconnection of microcells with built-in optics; University of Michigan, to develop tandem crystalline organic photovoltaic cells; University of South Florida for new process and product designs for CdTe cells and modules; and the University of Washington, which will focus on polymer-based photovoltaics with organic/inorganic nanostructures.

On the company side, the funding recipients are: Mayaterials, which aims to derive solar-grade silicon from agricultural by-products; Solasta, a business seeking to boost efficiency by using nanostructures to separate the path travelled by light from that travelled by electrons; Solexant, which will develop cheap inorganic cells with high efficiency; Soltaix, for thin-film crystalline solar cells for grid-connected electricity; Voxtel, to develop composite nanocrystal photovoltaic devices; and Wakonda Technologies, which aims to apply cheap conventional thinfilm manufacturing techniques to the production of large-area, high-efficiency, multi-junction photovoltaics.