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Spark Proposals

The new Spark project format will fund research aimed specifically at innovative concepts in photovoltaic (PV) module packaging that will increase module reliability and performance.

DuraMAT Spark Proposal Process — Quarterly Submission Review

Spark Proposal Purpose

Spark proposals are intended to be short-term projects (6-9 months) that serve a defined need, bridge gaps in DuraMAT's capability areas, or address a previously unidentified opportunity for research to impact the PV industry. The budget for each Spark project is limited to $50,000.

Successful proposals will be expected to display an obvious near-term impact by opening new areas of research, proving out a new technique, or bridging gaps in the capability network at the national laboratories. Proposals must have a well-defined, short-term work plan with one or two key tasks that will accomplish the proposal's goals.

The DuraMAT Consortium supports research opportunities in PV modules, excluding the cell (PV absorber or the TCO layer). For example, research may include innovative accelerated testing, novel packaging materials and design, new encapsulants, coatings, interconnects, or backsheets, simulations or modelling that predict the behavior of new materials or designs, new data analytics from field deployed modules, and more.

Proposed work should fit in one of the Spark priority topic areas:

  1. Interface characterization, modeling, and behavior over time/stress
  2. Highly accelerated lifetime testing
  3. Module recycling and the circular economy
  4. Blue sky science — novel, disruptive, and high-risk proposals
  5. Fill a critical capability gap
  6. Data analytics on materials reliability: use to reduce financing burden/risk


National laboratory staff are encouraged to submit proposals for funding. Industry and university staff are encouraged to team with the national laboratories for funded work to be done at the national laboratories. Proposals must have a national lab PI or co-PI. (Example: University ABC has a current project in interface dynamics. In partnership with National Lab DEF, a Spark is proposed to develop a new model basis set with the development done at the national laboratory and the university providing some cost share in the form of labor-consultation.) All proposals are encouraged to work in collaboration with industry, university, and other national laboratories.

Proposal Format

Proposals must be submitted using the online form. Each field is word limited as noted. No other methods will be accepted and no additional submissions will be considered.

Proposal Evaluation

Proposals will be evaluated at the end of each quarter of the fiscal year.

Fisal Year 2018 Deadlines:

  • Oct. 27th, 5 p.m. MT
  • Dec. 30th, 5 p.m. MT

Proposals will be screened for adherence to the above guidelines and relevance to the Spark priorities. Proposals that meet these criteria will be reviewed by technical experts on the DuraMAT Industry Advisory Board. Any members involved in a proposal will recuse themselves. The DuraMAT Industry Advisory Board will consider each proposal based on the following metrics:

Technical Merit

  • Does the project effectively address a Spark topic area?
  • Is the workplan clearly articulated and effective in achieving the goals of the project?
  • Are the milestones and deliverables clearly articulated and appropriate?
  • Who is the main beneficiary of the work (one company, a university, publication, multiple entities, etc.?)
  • What is the likelihood that this proposal would lead to successful follow-on proposals?
  • What is the likelihood of the proposed work to succeed based on the budget and work period proposed? 

Technical Impact

  • Does the proposal address an important research question or technical problem?
  • What is the potential impact of this work on module performance, system reliability, or the levelized cost of electricity of PV generation if it is successful?
  • If the proposed work is unsuccessful, what can DuraMAT or the PV community learn?
  • How might the proposed work add to the DuraMAT capability network, leverage the network, or challenge the capability network to improve?

Proposal Selection

The DuraMAT leadership team will evaluate the review by the industry advisory board and approve the highly ranked proposals for funding.

Submit a Proposal