New Energy Research Center Funded With $19 Million from Stimulus Act
By Tony Rairden
UCSB’S Institute for Energy Efficiency will be home to a new Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC), the White House announced last month. Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the center will receive a total of $19 million over the five-year initial award period.
The purpose of the new center — and 45 others the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science is establishing at universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms across the nation — is to advance scientific research on energy.
John E. Bowers, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Institute for Energy Efficiency, will serve as director of UCSB’s EFRC, to be known as the Center on Materials for Energy Efficiency Applications.
“The award of this center supports and strengthens the two core missions of the Institute for Energy Efficiency — creating new technologies for energy efficiency, and training a new generation of energy scientists and engineers,” Bowers said. “We’re delighted by the recognition, and by the confidence shown by the DOE in the research leadership of our faculty and our partners.”
The Center on Materials for Energy Efficiency Applications will be established as a new interdisciplinary center under the aegis of the Institute for Energy Efficiency. The objective of the center is to discover and develop materials that control the interactions between light, electricity, and heat at the nanoscale, for significantly improved efficiencies in solar energy conversion, solid-state lighting, and thermoelectrics for conversion of heat into electricity. The center’s research plans include collaboration with scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, UC Santa Cruz, and the University of Michigan.
Said Chancellor Henry T. Yang: “This prestigious $19 million EFRC grant is a testament both to the achievements of our IEE faculty and to the Institute’s strengths.”
Of the 46 centers established, 31 are led by universities, 12 by Department of Energy National Laboratories, two by nonprofit organizations, and one by a corporate research laboratory.