Materials Science Research
For photovoltaics and other energy applications, NREL's primary research in materials science includes the following core competencies.
Through materials growth and characterization, we seek to understand and control fundamental electronic and optical processes in semiconductors.
We use high-performance computing to design and discover materials for energy, and to study in detail the physical mechanisms that determine the material's behavior on an atomistic level.
We apply transmission/scanning electron and scanning probe techniques to understand the chemical, structural, morphological, electrical, interfacial, and luminescent properties on the nano to Angstrom scale.
We develop and apply a wide range of techniques to determine the chemical, elemental, and molecular composition, and the electronic structure of surfaces and critical interfaces.
Our experimental activities in inorganic solid-state materials innovation—from basic science through applied research, to device development—rely on a high-throughput combinatorial materials science approach followed by traditional targeted experiments.
We focus on using thin films to create and enable technologically useful applications, with a prime example being thin-film photovoltaics for renewable energy.
We test modules and systems for long-term performance, stressing them in the field and with accelerated testing equipment to improve PV reliability.