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Hands-On Photovoltaic Experience

The 2018 Hands-On PV Experience (HOPE) Workshop was held in Golden, Colorado, July 8–13. Our next workshop is planned for July 15–19, 2019.

A group of doctoral students at the 2018 HOPE event at NREL.

The 2018 HOPE doctoral students who participated in the annual event at NREL this summer.

The HOPE Workshop is designed to strengthen photovoltaic (PV) research at universities in the United States. HOPE is designed primarily for students, but also requires participation of the professors leading the research and overseeing each student's thesis.

HOPE provides opportunities for professors and graduate students to:

  • Interact with scientists and engineers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and others from across the United States
  • Learn about PV technology in a hands-on, small-group research setting
    • See solar cells fabricated
    • Perform hands-on measurements.
  • Build a network of research connections with other researchers, professors, and students from across the United States.

In 2018, students in HOPE participated in the fabrication of Si, III-V, and perovskite solar cells, as well as quantum efficiency and current-voltage characterization of these cells. They also learned about commercialization and entrepreneurship. Students also learned a variety of PV-related characterization techniques, including secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMs), time-resolved photoluminescence, X-ray and ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy, scanning probe techniques, and more. Students also learned about PV module fabrication and characterization, as well as outdoor testing of photovoltaic modules.

Eligible Applicants

HOPE targets professors who are leading PV-related research programs in the U.S. who would like to send a Ph.D. candidate to learn more about fabrication, measurement, or study of photovoltaic materials and devices. A joint application (for both the professor and student) is required. Participants do not need to be U.S. citizens but must be enrolled in a Ph.D. program in the U.S. All foreign nationals are subject to Department of Energy foreign national access requirements for NREL. We cannot accept students from foreign universities, students pursuing a Master's degree only, or postdoctoral researchers. While we accept students at any point during their Ph.D. research, the program tends to be most beneficial to students toward the middle (second–fourth year). To ensure the quality of the program, we are unable to accept all applicants but encourage application in a second year for those who are not accepted the previous year.

For technical difficulties with application submission, please contact Spring Hericks.


Registration for the HOPE workshop requires an application from both student and professor to qualify for consideration. Applicants may apply by submitting the following forms no later than March 1, 2019:

We typically expect the professors to cover the travel costs associated with their students’ attendance at HOPE (the cost of airfare and ~$400 to stay in the dorms for the week). In case of hardship, we have limited funds to help cover these travel costs. Please contact Adele Tamboli if you expect to need funding support.


Applications for summer 2019 will be due March 1, 2019. Expect notice of acceptance by April 1, 2019.

The workshop is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.

Workshop Content

Spectral mismatch between lamps used for testing photovoltaic cells and the actual solar spectrum can lead to measurement errors if they are not corrected for. Students at the 2017 Hands-On Photovoltaics Experience workshop at NREL learned how to do proper spectral mismatch corrections when testing photovoltaic cells, and then made a video to explain the technique. Watch this video to learn how to implement spectral mismatch corrections in your own lab.

Silicon PV

Paul Stradins gives an overview of how solar cells work, and then gets into the fundamentals of silicon photovoltaics, the market-leading technology. Text version

III-V Multijunctions

Myles Steiner explains how III-V and multijunction solar cells work. These devices are the basis for the highest efficiency photovoltaics. Text version

Hybrid Perovskites

Joe Berry discusses the exciting new field of hybrid perovskite photovoltaics, which have emerged recently as a leading contender for widespread PV deployment. Text version


Adele Tamboli

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