The National Science Foundation sponsored Renewable Energy Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (REMRSEC) at the Colorado School of Mines, with participation of researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), is focused on transformative materials science advances that greatly impact emerging renewable energy technologies. The Center’s research consists of two Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRG’s) and a Seed Grant Program.
The Photovoltaic IRG has developed new understanding of the role surface defects in Si dots play in oxidation, of the way in which quantum dot size can be used to reduce the sensitivity to oxidation while also improving energy collection, and of the important role the region between dots—the matrix or white space—plays in designing a quantum dot based PV material. By emphasizing, rather than ignoring, the matrix, new nano enabled paradigms for energy harvesting that extend from exciton transport to hot carrier transfer become possible.
The Advanced Membrane IRG focuses on the nanoionics—the development of nanostructured electrolytes that provide highways for rapid ion transport between the anode and cathode. Nanoionics attempts to understand and exploit the interfacial phenomena to create domains of high ionic conductivity, that when properly assembled at the nanoscale may affect transformative improvements in electrolyte performance. Systems of interest include polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC), proton conducting ceramics, and smart windows.
The REMRSEC seed program funds research that has the potential to have a transformative impact, and creative "high risk - high reward" ideas that have the potential to provide unique insights and new research directions closely aligned with, or complementary to the research goals of the Center with focus on renewable energy materials. The Center’s Seed Grant Program is the primary mechanism for introducing new research directions into the Center.