50 Years of Innovation Excellence

The University of Delaware’s Institute of Energy Conversion marks 50 years of operation this year. It is the world’s oldest solar research facility, credited with significant advances in solar technology, developing new leaders in solar energy research and industry, and helping to expand renewable energy possibilities for the future.

Extraordinary Advances

As IEC marks its 50th anniversary, finding ways to expand access to renewable energy — especially solar — has become a matter of urgency worldwide. The staggering environmental damage and pressures created by international conflicts and the increasing demand for energy all underscore the grave risks of continued dependence on fossil fuels.

State-of-the-art solar array and energy hub at UD’s Institute of Energy Conversion

The University of Delaware’s Institute of Energy Conversion has been a leader in solar energy research for almost a half-century. Now, for the first time, it has a working photovoltaic array on its premises — a state-of-the-art installation managed with the advanced technology of an energy hub.

Making Global Impacts

IEC has always emphasized education and training of the next generation of solar energy scientists and researchers. More than 100 students have received advanced degrees while studying at IEC. The center also has welcomed numerous postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars, representing nations from all over the world as this map, filled with pins, designating the location of IEC alumni.

A Center of Excellence

IEC is the oldest solar research facility in the world and one of only two recognized as a Center of Excellence for Photovoltaic Research and Education by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Its work crosses many disciplines, with students from different departments doing fundamental and applied research that relies on electrical engineering, chemical engineering, materials science and physics

University of Delaware Institute of Energy Conversion Celebrating 50 Years

The University of Delaware is a nationally classified research institution. Founded in 1972, UD’s Institute of Energy Conversion (IEC) is the oldest solar research facility in the world and one of only two recognized as a Center of Excellence for Photovoltaic Research and Education by the U.S. Department of Energy.

University of Delaware Institute of Energy Conversion Celebrating 50 Years

The University of Delaware is a nationally classified research institution. Founded in 1972, UD’s Institute of Energy Conversion (IEC) is the oldest solar research facility in the world and one of only two recognized as a Center of Excellence for Photovoltaic Research and Education by the U.S. Department of Energy.

What we do

The Institute of Energy Conversion (IEC) develops the fundamental science and engineering required to improve photovoltaic device performance and processing technologies, and works to effectively transfer these laboratory results to large-scale manufacturing.
Sun Graphic

Solar Technologies

IEC’s broad scope of research and solar technologies spans the fields of physics, chemistry, materials science, electrical, chemical and mechanical engineering and more.

Cutting-Edge Facilities

Our outstanding talent, facilities and labs, and vast array of equipment allow for sophisticated research into thin-film based solar cells, photovoltaic systems and related engineering topics.

Industrial Collaboration

With 50 years of hands-on experience with photovoltaics, IEC has long been a go-to research and development resource.

Dedicated People

IEC is staffed by experienced professionals dedicated to serving the needs of our users — from state-of-the-art science academic research to resource development. We look forward to working with you!
Institute of Energy Conversion Facility

Supporting research across UD

Collaboration across disciplines is a hallmark of research at UD and IEC is leading the way. Utilizing the groundwork laid by Dr. Karl Boer and his team, IEC is building upon their solid foundation while looking toward the future. More from the UD research community:
Maria Telkes

A Growing Need

“IEC was a trailblazer in another area,” said Larry Kazmerski, long-time director of Science and Technology at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. “It provided us with the first woman of solar energy. Maria Telkes made huge contributions in solar and did a lot in solar thermal storage. And this provided a pathway, recognizing that women should have a part in science as well.”
John Byrne

Job Creation

Job creation has been a key policy driver, said John Byrne, UD’s Distinguished Professor of Energy and Climate Policy, director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy and an affiliate of IEC.
“Solar creates more jobs per million dollars of investment — two to five times as many as other new electrical generation methods,” he said. “I’d love to say it was the zero-carbon footprint, but it was jobs.”
Steve Hegedus

The Future

“What excites me about the future of IEC and solar research in general is that there is now a very strong and clear awareness of the need for renewable carbon-free energy,” said Steven Hegedus, senior scientist at IEC and a professor of electrical and computer engineering.
“There are billions and billions of dollars going into clean technology and solar is one of the biggest beneficiaries of that. The question is, can we get this all to happen quick enough to offset the worst effects of climate change that we’re headed toward?”
Bill Shafarman

Leading the Way

The Institute for Energy Conversion (IEC) is led by Director William Shafarman, professor of materials science and engineering. The institute’s research focuses on making large-scale terrestrial power that is scalable, affordable and more reliable. Toward these goals, IEC is closely aligned with manufacturing companies, and the institute’s research projects have targeted manufacturing approaches. IEC is staffed by experienced professionals dedicated to serving the needs of our users.

Contact Us

If you need further assistance or have a specific request, please fill out the form below and we will get back to you shortly.