The University of Toledo | Powering Innovation

Powering Innovation

Advancing Clean Energy Technologies for a Sustainable Future

A trailblazer in solar energy innovation for more than three decades, The University of Toledo and its Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization are powering the future through clean energy research and commercialization. Helping to establish Ohio as a leader in next-generation clean energy innovations, UToledo scientists partner with industry leaders, including First Solar, which recently announced a $185 million investment in its northwest Ohio facilities.

Rows of solar panels in a grass field.

The University of Toledo is leading the U.S. Department of Energy’s Cadmium Telluride Accelerator Consortium to advance domestic manufacturing of CdTe solar cells that are less expensive and more efficient. As part of a $20 million federal investment in CdTE technologies, the initiative aims to spur technological advancements that will strengthen national energy security and clear the way for widespread use of clean solar electricity.

Dr. Yanfa Yan, professor of physics, explaining his research to U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm and U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur.

Flexible photovoltaic energy sheets that would live in space are being developed by physicist Randall Ellingson, Ph.D., to harvest solar energy and in the future be able to transmit power wirelessly back to Earth or orbital instrumentation. The U.S. Air Force awarded UToledo $12.5 million to develop the solar cell sheets that can take advantage of the 37% stronger sunlight above the atmosphere.

Randall Ellingson, Ph.D. in a laboratory

By combining two types of solar cells, UToledo physicists Yanfa Yan, Ph.D., and Zhaoning Song, Ph.D., are harvesting light to convert to electricity directly from the sun and light reflected off the ground. Developing the stronger and longer-lasting solar panels combines the advanced material called perovskites with existing cadmium-selenide-telluride-based solar cells to maximize performance and reduce costs.

Yanfa Yan, Ph.D., and Zhaoning Song, Ph.D., standing in a field of solar panels. Dr. Zhaoning Song is holding a solar cell up to the camera.

Future missions to Mars and the moon could benefit from new solar power conversion circuitry being developed by engineers Daniel Georgiev, Ph.D., and Raghav Khanna, Ph.D., that are more tolerant to space-related radiation, which degrades the circuitry’s performance and results in power loss and system downtime.

Daniel Georgiev, Ph.D., and Raghav Khanna, Ph.D., standing in a laboratory. A nearby monitor shows a wave pattern.

Aiming to make U.S. Navy ships more efficient, engineer Raghav Khanna, Ph.D., is creating direct-current microgrids that require less energy and physical space. While silicon is the most common component in power devices, Khanna’s team instead will design circuits using gallium nitride to deliver higher performance.

A headshot of Raghav Khanna, Ph.D. A headshot of Raghav Khanna, Ph.D.

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Last Updated: 9/7/22