University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University will be joining two other colleges to research how to make solar energy more efficient.

Armed with a $240,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, the four colleges — which include George Fox and Western Washington — will look at how to improve the effectiveness of photovoltaic solar cells. The team will include Andrea Munro, an expert on semiconductor nanocrystal in PLU’s Department of Chemistry, and Amy Spivey, an expert in optics and spectroscopy at UPS’s Department of Physics.

More specifically, the team will examine luminescent solar concentrators, or LSCs, which “collect sunlight over a large area, focus the light and convert shorter wavelengths of light into longer wavelengths,” according to a press release from UPS. The result is light that can be converted into electricity much more efficiently and more cheaply than current technology allows.

 “Physical science today is increasingly collaborative and interdisciplinary, but often faculty members at undergraduate universities, who spend the majority of their time on classroom teaching, find it difficult to develop and sustain collaborative research programs,” said Spivey. “I am thrilled that the Murdock Trust has seen fit to bring together and support this collaborative project.”