UNIVERSITY PARK – Jeffrey Brownson, assistant professor of energy and mineral engineering and materials science and engineering, presented “Power Quest: Are We Solving the Sustainable Energy Puzzle?” at a recent Research Unplugged event in downtown State College. In this video excerpt from his talk, Brownson refutes a common myth that cloudy regions, including Pennsylvania, aren’t sunny enough to use solar energy. He points out that Pennsylvania is significantly sunnier than Germany, the global leader in solar energy development, and notes that the amount of sunlight averaged out over a year is of greater importance to solar power’s viability than daily sunshine.
Brownson was the faculty director for Penn State’s solar house, Natural Fusion, and mentored the student-run Natural Fusion team to a third place victory in two categories within the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C., in 2009. He has a unique background as a materials scientist for solar energy conversion systems, having completed his degrees in geoscience, materials science, and environmental chemistry. He has a special interest in the exchange between the sciences, society and the arts.
The Brownson lab’s research focus is photovoltaics, the materials and systems that allow the direct conversion of sunlight to electrical energy. Their current materials research is focused on synthesis and characterization of tin monosulfide and cadmium telluride, both promising light absorbing materials for thin-film solar cells due to their favorable light absorption properties, stable nature and the inexpensive availability of the raw materials.
Research Unplugged is held from 12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. on six consecutive Thursdays during the spring and fall semesters in the Schlow Centre Region Library‘s Downsbrough Community Room in State College. The programs are free and open to all, with complimentary free refreshments, and are sponsored by Penn State University Relations and the Office of the Vice President for Research, in cooperation with Schlow Centre Region Library.