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USC Hosts DOE Center for Energy Nanoscience (CEN) 2011 Annual Meeting

Formerly the Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC), CEN celebrates first year of Center
Lisa Heckaman
January 21, 2011 —

The 2011 Center for Energy Nanoscience (CEN) National Meeting took place on Jan 21-22 at the USC University Park Campus in Los Angeles. 

Formerly named the Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) for Emerging Materials for Solar Energy Conversion and Solid State Lighting, CEN focuses on the fundamental issues controlling the performance of low cost, high efficiency solar cells and light emitting diodes (LEDs).

Now in its second year, CEN serves the specialized needs of researchers and scientists, and has been redesigned to feature more advanced assessment of issues relevant to organic and hybrid photovoltaics, nanostructure photovoltaics, quantum and classical simulations, and with expanding education outreach for students and communities. It teams  faculty from the USC College with Viterbi faculty, and also includes participants from the University of Michigan, University of Virginia, and University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign.)

 DeanYannis Yortsos welcomes participants at the CEN Meeting

Dean Yannis C. Yortsos welcomed the crowd of faculty, students and business representatives as he referenced the NAE Grand Challenges noting that solar energy is a key element to the expansion of smart grid projects.

"We need to initiate movements within universities to research renewable energy," he said.  "The CEN program promised – and delivered - in revolutionizing the way we utilize energy in our lives and work while reaffirming USC as a national leader in the critical area of energy."

Yortsos introduced participants to a new a new smart grid joint project between the Viterbi School and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power researching cyber security and informatics. “We have made a good beginning,” said CEN director P. Daniel Dapkus, “The research presented here today shows the viability of our approach.

Mark E. Thompson, professor in the USC Department of Chemistry, the associate director of CEN, who like Dapkus also has an appointment in the Viterbi School's Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, discussed “Exciton Balancing in Organic Photovoltaics.”

“We are making tremendous progress.  The center is focused on making new materials for solar cells and light emitting diodes. These materials will advance our understanding of these devices as well as improving their performance,” said Thompson. “Our center has only been running for about 18 months, but a number of collaborations are well under way, producing materials and making measurements on these devices. CEN was essential for both initiating these collaborations and keeping them running.”

The meeting covered a variety of topics over the two-day event including recent advances in safety and toxicological assessment of nanomaterials developed for, or relevant to, energy nanoscience. Students from the University of Virginia, and the University of Michigan as well as USC presented more than 25 posters introducing their projects relating to CEN research and nanoscience.  CEN innovations have the potential to affect many sectors and industries including agriculture, energy, defense, medical, and pharmaceutical. With rapid growth in potential applications and increasing knowledge of the safety/risk implications to human health and the environment, significant energy nanoscience impacts are increasingly feasible.

Students display their work during the poster presentations at the CEN meeting
Other USC researchers in the CEN team include: Richard Brutchey, Barry Thompson and Steve Bradforth of the USC Department of Chemistry; John O'Brien and Barry Thompson of the Ming Hsieh Department; Steve Cronin and Chongwu Zhou, who have joint appointments in chemistry and in the Ming Hsieh department; Jia Grace Lu, with joint appointments in the USC Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Ming Hsieh Department; and Priya Vashishta, Rajiv Kalia, and Aiichiro Nakano, with appointments in astronomy and physics and in the Viterbi School Department of Computer Science.

CEN is one of 46 Department of Energy-funded Energy Frontiers Research Centers, representing a projected total national investment of $777 million. For more information please visit http://www.er.doe.gov/bes/EFRC/index.html 

The Center for Energy Nanoscience
CEN uses semiconductor nanotechnology and organic molecular design in innovative materials and device designs to develop new understanding of the fundamental issues controlling the performance of low cost, high efficiency, safe solar cells and light emitting diodes (LEDs). Major current initiatives and future goals for the Center revolve around dramatically increasing efficiency, reducing the cost of solar cells and LEDs to create technologies that are cost competitive with the incumbent technologies, and developing new understanding of semiconductor nanoscience, organic molecule design, and device design to enable new generations of efficient device designs. For more information, please visit http://usccen.com/