Global Food Initiative
Lihua Zu, Ph.D.
GFI Fellow - Class of 2018
Graduate student, chemical and environmental education
The UC Riverside Initiative on Photovoltaics for Light, Energy and Farming (UCR P-LEAF incorporates experimental and theoretical work to create the first generation of organic semiconducting materials specifically tailored for implementation as agricultural covers. Lihua plans to design optoelectronic organic materials that absorb mainly at wavelengths outside the optimal range for plant growth. She envisions that solar cells made from such flexible and affordable materials could be used as covers or roofs of greenhouses in order to provide them with power, particularly when separated from the electrical supply grid. These energy-generating devices will be transparent to the shorter wavelengths of sunlight needed for plant growth and use the longer wavelengths for generating the power needed to heat, irrigate, or otherwise run the greenhouse, creating a zero-energy usage farming structure.