A bright idea developed through the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering has been selected for the final stage of a national contest meant to expand solar energy manufacturing in the United States.

SunFlex Solar is a new startup venture co-founded by ASU Assistant Research Technologist Kate Fisher, Associate Professor Zachary Holman, Assistant Research Professor Zhengshan “Jason” Yu and doctoral student Barry Hartweg. The group entered its Sunfoil solar panel enhancement in the second round of the American-Made Solar Prize competition initiated by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office.

The foursome from the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of the six Fulton Schools, learned in September that they had won $50,000 and a place among 20 semifinalists. By the end of March, SunFlex Solar was chosen as one of 10 finalists in the competition. The latter selection also came with $100,000 in prize money and an additional $75,000 in credit for development assistance from a network of national laboratories and component fabrication facilities.

The competition will announce two ultimate winners this summer, and each venture will receive half a million dollars to develop their innovation and an additional $75,000 in credit for laboratory and fabricator support. SunFlex Solar seeks to be one of those two winners through its novel method of enhancing solar panel efficiency at low cost.

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