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Wanted: Students to make a distributed future with solar-powered open-source 3-D printing.
Contact Dr. Joshua Pearce or Apply here

MOST: Projects and Publications, Methods, Lit. reviews, People, Sponsors
Twitter updates @ProfPearce


The Pearce Research Group at Michigan Tech in Open Sustainability Technology focuses on open and applied sustainability, which is the application of science and innovation to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems.

Specifically we are interested in exploring the way solar photovoltaic technology can sustainably power our society and how open-source hardware like open source appropriate technologies (or OSAT) and RepRap 3-D printing can drive decentralized local production and manufacturing (and maybe even social change)[1]. See Advancing Open, Sustainable Technology with 3D Printing

We have a strong open access policy.

Pearce Publications By Topic: Energy Conservation Energy Policy Industrial SymbiosisLife Cycle Analysis Materials Science Open Source Photovoltaic Systems Solar CellsSustainable Development Sustainability Education

Current Research ProjectsEdit

Photovoltaic Materials, Electronic Device Physics, and Solar Photovoltaic Systems Projects Open Source Distributed Manufacturing
Pvcash.jpg Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology has already obtained grid parity in specific locations and as installed costs continue to decline, grid electricity prices continue to escalate, PV will become an increasingly economically advantageous source of electricity over expanding geographical regions.[2] Laserw.JPG Open source hardware (OSH) consists of physical objects designed and offered in the same manner as free and open-source software (FOSS). MOST is working on open-source scientific hardware for Open source labs using Arduino microcontrollers and RepRaps in addition to our standard work in OSAT.
Nanocolumns ingan.jpgMTU MBE Front.JPG

We intend to further reduce the costs by developing an ultra-high efficiency indium gallium nitride (InGaN) solar cell. [3] The band gap of InGaN can be tuned from 0.7eV-3.4eV by adjusting the ratio of indium and gallium in the film so a multi-layered cell covers the entire range of the solar spectrum. Thus, a well-designed InGaN solar cell can absorb and convert a much higher fraction of the sun’s light energy into electricity. In addition to band gap engineering, PV device performance can be improved by engineering the microstructure of the material to increase the optical path length and provide light trapping. For this purpose, nano-columns are candidates for the ideal microstructure as it has been shown that when their diameters are optimized, resonant behavior is observed.

We are on the front lines of a 3D Revolution and made Open's list of "5 favorite 3D printing projects of 2015"
MOST delta2.JPG Joshua Pearce Explains the 3D Printing Revolution on Japan's Corbett Report
Open source 3-D printers (RepRaps), enable 3D printing of open source appropriate technologies, which are easily and economically made from readily available resources by local communities to meet their needs. This project is developing solar powered self-replicating open-source 3-D printers - capable of making primary components of solar photovoltaic systems from recycled waste. The project investigates the technical and economic viability and environmental impact. Here is the plan. How would global society change if everyone had access to abundant low-cost renewable energy via solar electricity, open source 3D designs and an affordable open source 3-D printer like the RepRap?
Plasmonics cell.png This project aims to improve efficiencies of commercial solar cells using resonant plasmonic nanostructures. We are using wide-angle, polarization–independent, broadband plasmonic perfect meta-absorbers capable of achieving absorption throughout the entire solar spectrum while reducing semiconductor absorber layer thicknesses, which reduces deposition time, material used, embodied energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and ultimately economic costs. Sparks1.jpg We are further developing our <$2000 open-source metal 3-D printer. The metal 3-D printer is controlled with an open-source micro-controller and is a combination of a low-cost commercial gas-metal MIG welder and a derivative of the Rostock, a deltabot RepRap. We provided everything you need to make your own as we are climbing the ladder of sophistication together to give everyone the ability to print useful objects in steel and aluminum.
SEARC OTF.jpg An important factor in decreasing the costs of PV systems is implementing a proper system design which effectively utilizes the modules to their greatest efficiency. Here we are properly accounting for meteorological factors which affect the performance of PV modules, and to suggest best practices for reducing losses and increasing yields for PV systems. See: the OSOTF or some of our projects on snow and solar cells Recyclebot-process.png A RecycleBot is a waste plastic extruder - that can take household polymer waste and turn it into valuable 3-D printer feedstock. This project focuses on designing, building and testing an extruder for the RepRap that uses polymer waste as a feedstock.

Completed ProjectsEdit

Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Group Completed Projects & Publications 2017
Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Group Popular Audience Articles 2017
Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Group Completed Projects and Publications 2016
Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Group Popular Audience Articles 2016

Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Group Completed Projects and Publications 2015


OSE tour of MOST lab 2
OSE tour of MOST lab 1
Michigan Tech Owning Open Hardware
Why do we make such a big deal about open source hardware? Watch this movie
Shenzhen - The Silicon Valley of Hardware (Full Documentary) - Future Cities - WIRED
طابعات ثلاثية الابعاد لطباعة الفولاذ - 4Tech
BBC Arabic visits MOST

Group LinksEdit


  1. Rumpala, Y., 2016. A New Printing Revolution? 3D Printing as an Agent of Socio-Political Change. International Journal of Technoethics (IJT), 7(2), pp.105-123.
  2. K. Branker, M.J.M. Pathak, J.M. Pearce, A Review of Solar Photovoltaic Levelized Cost of Electricity, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15, pp.4470-4482 (2011). DOI and Open access
  3. D.V.P. McLaughlin & J.M. Pearce, "Progress in Indium Gallium Nitride Materials for Solar Photovoltaic Energy Conversion", Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A 44(4) pp. 1947-1954 (2013).


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