The White House announced Monday that UCSB will receive $19 million from the Stimulus Act to fund a new Energy Frontier Research Center.

President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be funding the UCSB EFRC – dubbed the Center on Materials for Energy Efficiency Applications – and investing a total of $19 million over a five-year period. Nationwide, 46 institutions will receive funding from the Stimulus Act, and the resulting research will seek to improve efficiencies in solar energy conversion, solid-state lighting and thermoelectrics, which allows for conversion of heat into electricity. The center will be housed in the Institute for Energy Efficiency.

Professor John Bowers, director of UCSB’s EFRC, said the grant is a testament to the achievements in energy research conducted by the university.

“The award of this center supports and strengthens the two core missions of the Institute for Energy Efficiency: creating new technologies for energy efficiency, and training a new generation of energy scientists and engineers,” Bowers said in a press release. “We’re delighted by the recognition and by the confidence shown by [the U.S. Department of Energy in the research leadership of our faculty and our partners.”

Of the 46 EFRCs to be established nationwide, UCSB is one of only 16 institutions receiving the 5-year initial award plan. The D.O.E received 206 applications in 2008 and the selection involved a rigorous merit review process.

Dan Colbert, Executive Director for the College of Engineering, said the selection process was based on the university’s past achievements in energy research.

“Think of it as the top 16 getting a commitment from the D.O.E,” Colbert said. “The other 30 will be judged and funded on a year-to-year basis.”

Colbert went on to add that the program will expand the school’s job creation, as it will lead to a rise in graduate students in the future. According to a press release, over the five-year period UCSB’s Center on Material for Energy Efficiency Applications will employ an average of 24 graduate student researchers, two postdoctoral researchers, 14 undergraduate researchers, an associate director and an administrative assistant.

The center’s research will include partnerships with scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, UC Santa Cruz and the University of Michigan.

Chancellor Henry T. Yang said he was honored by the national recognition generated by the award and the potential for future research produced by the grant.

“Our campus is very proud of the contributions of our Institute for Energy Efficiency,” Yang said, in an e-mail. “This prestigious $19 million EFRC grant is a testament both to the achievements of our IEE faculty and to the importance of the Institute’s research to help us find ways to do more with less energy.”