One of the tours offered to community members this month at Los Alamos National Laboratory took them behind the security fence to the Center for Advanced Photophysics. There, bent over spectroscopes, reaching into glove boxes and turning on high-powered lasers in darkened rooms, free of dust and ambient vibrations, a team of about 30 people are working to realize a more perfect solar cell.
At the time, the project was up for renewal, along with 46 other national Energy Frontier Research Centers funded by the Department of Energy. Not much was said about that, but the question hung in the air. The LANL project had built a team, published papers, increased efficiencies and found a way forward. But was that enough in an era ruled by policy uncertainties and shrinking budgets in Washington, D.C.?
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