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Selling Sunshine: Early Solar Energy Research at ASU (Podcast and Exhibit)

​At a glance, harnessing the power of the Arizona sun would seem to be a natural fit for an aspiring southwestern university. ASU’s increasing research capability, the ambitions of Arizona businesses and the Arab oil embargoes of the 1970’s might have been a perfect storm for the development of solar technology. But technical challenges and uncertain government support impeded strategic investment and innovation in a field that sparked the imagination but required robust interdisciplinary research and development.

University Archivist Rob Spindler and host Fred McIlvain talk with Dr. Charles Backus, a national pioneer in photovoltaics research at ASU in the 1970’s, and Harvey Bryan, an ASU student and later Professor of Design, about the opportunities and challenges of solar energy at ASU.

See the related exhibit of photographs, documents and ephemera at the Luhrs Gallery, 4th floor Hayden Library through the end of October 2013.

You can also learn more about the origins these initiatives in the Solar Eneregy Collection at AED Library and visit ASU Lightworks for ongoing solar energy and other sustainable energy research at Arizona State University.

Download Selling Sunshine (MP3 Audio - Right Click or CTRL Click and select "Save link as")
Episode Transcript (PDF)

Host: Fred McIlvain 
Interviewer: Rob Spindler
Guests: Charles Backus, Harvey Bryan

Recorded by Matthew Harp, Produced by Jennifer Duvernay