“The collaborations enabled by the ERC have undoubtably been one of the highlights of my career,” Kostuk said. “It was extremely beneficial to me and the photovoltaic community at large, because we formed a really great team of experts. In many respects, this team is now considered a national resource on photovoltaics and will most likely play a major role in converting the United States to clean energy in the future decade.”
Kostuk has been involved in QESST since its formation, alongside professors Christiana Honsberg, from Arizona State University, and Harry Atwater, from the California Institute of Technology. Honsberg and Atwater have both testified before Congress on the state of photovoltaics in the United States.
“Professor Honsberg was interested in working with me because I was using optics to improve the performance of photovoltaic systems. I was kind of an outlier, because most of the other faculty involved were materials scientists who were experts on designing and processing solar cells,” Kostuk said. “At first I felt like a fish out of water being surrounded by materials scientists, but as time went on, we found ways to collaborate and come up with interesting ideas that used the strengths of many different areas.”
Over QESST’s lifetime, photovoltaics grew rapidly in the United States and across the world. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, jobs in solar power have increased by nearly 160% since 2010.
Kostuk estimates his work with QESST resulted in him receiving well over $1 million in research funding, and another half-million from spinoff contracts and grants.