Scientific American recognizes DOE lab’s solar cell research

NOV. 11, 2002 — The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has been named by Scientific American magazine as one of the Scientific American 50 — the magazine’s first list recognizing annual contributions to science and technology that provide a vision of a better future.

Announced today, the Scientific American 50 makes its debut in the magazine’s December issue, due on newsstands Nov. 18. The complete list also is online at

“The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is extremely proud to be honored by a leading publication such as Scientific American,” NREL Director Richard Truly said.

NREL, along with Spectrolab Inc., was selected by the magazine for work in increasing the efficiency of photovoltaic solar cells. NREL’s research into multi-junction solar cells for more than a decade has led the way to ever more efficient cells, offering the potential of cheaper electricity from the sun. Multi-junction solar cells use multiple layers of semiconductor material to absorb light and convert it into electricity more efficiently than single-junction cells.

In 2001 — using a solar cell design licensed from NREL — Spectrolab made a gallium indium phosphide/gallium arsenide/germanium (GaInP/GaAs/Ge) triple-junction solar cell with a record 34 percent efficiency under concentrated sunlight. More information on the Laboratory’s photovoltaic research can be found at

Selected by the magazine’s Board of Editors, the Scientific American 50 spotlights a Business Leader of the Year and a Research Leader of the Year, in addition to citing accomplishments in Agriculture, Chemicals and Materials, Communications,

Computing, Defense, Energy, Environment, Manufacturing, Medical Diagnostics, Medical Treatments, Transportation, and General Technology. Each category recognizes a business leader, policy leader, company leader and research leader.

NREL and Spectrolab were recognized as company leaders in the energy category.

Scientific American was founded in 1845 and is published by Holtzbrinck Publishers. Editorial contributors have included more than 100 Nobel laureates, among them Albert Einstein, Neils Bohr, Francis Crik, Stanley Prusiner and Harold Varmus.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Midwest Research Institute, Battelle and Bechtel. The laboratory is a center for research into wind energy, solar energy, plant- and waste-derived fuels and chemicals, advanced vehicle design, energy efficient buildings, geothermal energy and hydrogen use and storage.

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