Prof. Michael Chabinyc Leads Endeavor to Develop Next Generation Solar Cells with Gift from German Real Estate Developer

Friday, December 18, 2015

Alstria office REIT-AG, one of Germany’s largest listed commercial real estate companies, has made a gift to UCSB to support research in organic solar cells. 

John van Oost, former Deputy Chairman of Alstria and now Managing Partner and co-founder at Fluxus Ventures, recognized that organic solar cells have potential in the area of building integrated solar and initiated the interaction between Alstria and UCSB. "Fluxus Ventures takes leadership on innovation for the real estate industry and believes that relationships between leading real estate companies and world class universities are essential for developing new building technologies and bringing them to market."

Solar cells are an important component in the world’s renewable energy portfolio because of their ability to convert sunlight directly into electricity. While “solar cell” may conjure an image of a large, opaque black plate, frequently seen on the roofs of buildings or in solar energy farms, there are alternatives. Efficient solar cells can also be formed from many materials including simple dyes or pigments. These materials can be used to make solar cells with unique properties such as near transparency in the visible spectrum, but light absorption in the ultraviolet and near infrared regions. 

Research at UCSB aims to determine the nanoscale structure of organic solar cells and connect these features with their ultimate performance. Prof. Michael Chabinyc of the Materials Department and his students use advanced X-ray methods to study how molecules pack together leading to ordered structures that reduce the loss of energy from the incident light to useful electrical power.  Prof. Chabinyc is excited by the engagement of end-users in early stage research.  “The support from Alstria demonstrates the critical need for advanced solar cells that are engineered from initial design to be integrated with buildings.”

The interaction between UCSB and Alstria will start a new dialogue and expose graduate student researchers to the needs of the modern building industry, which they would not otherwise have exposure to. Alstria and Fluxus Ventures both aim to speed up the pace of innovation in the real estate industry with Alstria supporting early stage research and Fluxus Ventures backing early stage companies developing innovative solutions for smarter cities.

To learn more about Alstria, one of Germany's largest listed commercial real estate companies, please click here 

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