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Stephanie Lee, an assistant professor at Stevens Institute of Technology, has been awarded a 2019 CAREER Award by the National Science Foundation to fund her research on green, portable, cost-efficient solar panels and other power sources. Lee has been granted $500,000 over the next five years.
Lee received the award for her work in alternative materials to harvest sunlight, which could one day be used in place of traditional silicon for solar panels. Lee and her team are reimagining the materials and processes used to build light and portable solar panels, while also trying to improve their energy conversion rate through crystal engineering. Lee and students in the Lee Lab are using carbon-based molecules to convert photons to electricity. These molecules can then be spread across a thin plastic film to create flexible panels that can be rolled up and easily installed on any surface of a home, from roofs to windows. This method could allow panels to be created quickly and effectively, significantly lowering the costs associated with production.
Light-harvesting crystals optimized for performance. Courtesy of Kai Zong.
The NSF’s CAREER program, established in 1995, offers the award in support of early-career faculty who are distinguishing themselves as leaders and role models in their respective fields.