Dominant conventional energy sources - oil, coal, natural gas, and nuclear power - are accompanied by problems of air and water pollution, resource depletion, and the greenhouse effect, all of which are becoming increasingly unacceptable and unaffordable. In the 21st century, photovoltaics (PV) - direct conversion of sunlight into electricity - can potentially meet the rapidly growing demand for electricity with minimal environmental consequence. The real challenge lies in reducing the cost of solar cells while raising their efficiencies. Research and education on advanced PV materials and devices will play a major role in accelerating the development of cost-effective PV.

To address these issues, the Department of Energy (DOE) has established a University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaics Research and Education (UCEP) at Georgia Tech, one of two such centers in the United States. The Center, under the direction of Dr. Ajeet Rohatgi, reports through Georgia Tech's Office of Interdisciplinary Programs. The mission of the Center is to improve the fundamental understanding of the science and technology of advanced PV devices, to fabricate record high efficiency solar cells, to provide training and enrich the educational experience of students in this field, and to give the U.S. a competitive edge by providing guidelines to industry and DOE for achieving cost-effective and high-efficiency PV devices.

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