Two Organizations Join Colorado State University’s Next Generation Photovoltaics Center

Note to Reporters: A photo of W.S. Sampath is available with the news release at

PPG Industries and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and Colorado State University’s solar and research development center have joined to reduce Cadmium Telluride module costs by 17 percent or under $1 per watt. The group has been awarded $3.1 million by the Department of Energy.

Colorado State University’s solar and research development center, formally known as the National Science Foundation Industry and University Cooperative Research Program on Next Generation Photovoltaics, was established in 2010 to explore next-generation solar technology. The center is led by CSU Professor W.S. Sampath, co-founder of one of the university’s most successful spinoff companies, Abound Solar.

Colorado State’s solar and research development center will work with PPG Industries and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop the materials, coating designs and manufacturing processes necessary to commercialize a new glass article for the Cadmium Telluride module manufacturing industry.

In the early 1990s, Sampath and his colleagues, Al Enzenroth and Kurt Barth, began to investigate low-cost photovoltaic solutions – focusing on thin-film cadmium technology – in Sampath’s Materials Engineering Laboratory at CSU. They formed a spinoff, now called Abound Solar, in 2007 with the support of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden. In 2008, Abound attracted $104 million in venture capital – more than any other Colorado company that year. To date, Abound has attracted $300 million in private capital and a Federal Loan Guarantee of $400 million.

The center is funded through a 5-year, $90,000 grant from the NSF; industry participants also contribute a total of $400,000 per year. In addition to Abound, other companies that participate in the center include 5N Plus, Pilkington, Ion Edge Corp. and MBI Corp.