Solar Energy Research


Center for Revolutionary Solar Photoconversion

The Center for Revolutionary Solar Photoconversion is a basic science research initiative emerging from the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory. The Center will involve chemistry and engineering faculty from CSU and other Colorado research universities in looking at next generation solar power.

Materials Engineering Laboratory

The researchers in CSU's Materials Engineering Laboratory — Robert "Al" Enzenroth, Dr. W. S. Sampath, and Kurt L. Barth — are mechanical engineers with background in materials science and research and development for industrial manufacturing. Their work through the Laboratory focuses on significantly increasing worldwide manufacturing volume of photovoltaics by 2010 and reducing the price of photovoltaics modules to support their widespread use as an alternative energy source. Photovoltaics, the new generation of solar energy and a free-standing alternative power supply, has the potential to better meet the energy needs of the world's 6 billion people, one-third of whom live without electricity.

National Science Foundation Industry and University Cooperative Research Program

Founded in 2010, the National Science Foundation Industry and University Cooperative Research Program is a $2.5 million solar research-and-development center in partnership with industry to explore next-generation solar technology.


Colorado State University has featured nationally recognized programs in solar-thermal research since the 1960s and in photovoltaic research since the 1970s, largely in the Colleges of Engineering and Natural Sciences. Technologies developed by Colorado State University have achieved annual solar-to-thermal conversion efficiencies greater than 60 percent. Many of the solar heating, domestic hot water and cooling system designs on the market today were first evaluated at Colorado State.

Solar Cells

Colorado State's solar cell research program in the Department of Physics analyzes the differences between the more economical thin-film polycrystalline solar cells from several labs and traditional crystalline cells.

Solar Energy Applications Laboratory

The Solar Energy Applications Laboratory (SEAL) on the Foothills Campus was a pioneering laboratory with research that focused on solar thermal energy, building analysis, and HVAC systems. The Laboratory was founded in 1972 by Dr. George O.G. Lof, whose distinctive career since the 1940s earned him worldwide recognition as one of the early, groundbreaking leaders of solar research. When the Lab's first structure, Solar House I, was built in 1974, it was the first house in the world engineered to be both heated and cooled with solar energy. The Laboratory was established to carry out experiments in solar heating and cooling of buildings and solar water heating. The major emphasis of its solar energy research was directed toward improving the performance of systems installed in a real-world environment so that they can reach their theoretical potential. SEAL is one of only two university laboratories that have received continuing support from the U.S. Department of Energy. Today, SEAL researchers are studying room air motion, building and HVAC simulation, short-term energy monitoring, thermal storage, and neural networks for HVAC control.

Solar Panels

Professor W.S. Sampath is focused on clean renewable energy sources. He and his research team are applying continuous, high-throughput processing methods to reduce the cost of making photovoltaic cells that will provide electricity more efficiently to communities in the U.S. and around the world. He is also doing research on light-emitting diodes that run off a battery and can provide enough power to operate a lightbulb for 20 continuous hours, providing 10 times more light than a candle and charged by a solar panel.

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