National Renewable Energy Laboratory welcomes new fellows

The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently named Richard DeBlasio, Sarah Kurtz and Suhuai Wei to its Research Fellows Council, which advises NREL executive management on the strategic direction of science and technology research at the laboratory.

Kurtz and NREL colleague Jerry Olson championed the early use of multi-junction solar cells by showing that a top cell of gallium indium phosphide (GaInP) and a bottom cell of gallium arsenide (GaAs) can capture and convert photons more efficiently into electricity than previous attempts at using other materials. Their breakthrough was embraced by NASA, which uses multi-junction solar cells based on this invention to power many space satellites, as well as the Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.

Kurtz’s work helped illuminate ways to grow high-quality cells, determine how to measure multi-junction cells and track how their performance is affected under various spectra. More recently, she has looked at reliability issues when integrating multi-junction cells and other solar PV into larger systems. Kurtz — the winner of numerous individual and team awards — also helped form the International PV Quality Assurance Task Force to develop comparative test standards for PV modules.

During the last 29 years at NREL, Wei has made a number of key contributions to the current understanding of the structural and electronic properties of materials, including work on the effects of ordering on semiconductor alloys, the effects of d and f electrons in II-VI and magnetic semiconductors, the chemical trends of band offsets and deformation potentials in semiconductors, and the doping limit and control in wide-gap semiconductors. His work covers a wide range of fields, including alloys, superlattices, PV materials, magnetic semiconductors, hybrid materials, nanomaterials, and wide band gap nitrides and oxides.


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