Hands-On Photovoltaic Experience

The annual Hands-On Photovoltaic Experience (HOPE) Workshop will be held in July 2022.

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: Hands-On Photovoltaic Experience

July 2022

Students inspect a PV structure.

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
    • Learn in-lab measurement methods
  • Build a network of research connections with other researchers, professors, and students from across the United States.

The HOPE program offers students expertise in a variety of PV-related characterization techniques, including secondary ion mass spectrometry, time-resolved photoluminescence, X-ray and ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy, and scanning probe techniques.

In previous years, HOPE students learned about the fabrication of Si, III-V, CdTe, and perovskite solar cells as well as quantum efficiency and current-voltage characterization of these cells. Participants also gained valuable insight surrounding commercialization and entrepreneurship while learning about PV module fabrication and characterization, and outdoor testing of photovoltaic modules.

Eligible Applicants

HOPE is aimed at doctoral students pursuing PV-related research in the U.S. who would like to learn more about fabrication, measurement, and study of photovoltaic materials and devices, while connecting with NREL’s staff and other students and faculty in this research space.

Participants do not need to be U.S. citizens but must be enrolled in a doctoral program in the U.S. NREL 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 doctoral 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.

HOPE 2022 will either be held in person at NREL and Colorado School of Mines July 17 to 22 or virtually July 12 to 22. Unlike previous years, faculty will only be involved virtually in the HOPE 2022 program. In-person HOPE requires students to pay for travel to Golden, Colorado; for housing at Colorado School of Mines; and meals. The decision on whether the event will be held in person or virtually will be made no later than the date students are accepted to the program (the beginning of April).

Applications

Applications for HOPE 2022 are now closed. Please check back in January of next year for information about the class of 2023.

Workshop Content

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

The workshop content changes year to year depending on the interests of the participants; however, the schedule for the 2020 HOPE Workshop offers a sense of the workshop's usual content.

Interested in current-voltage and quantum efficiency measurements on solar cells? View slides from Colorado State University's Jim Sites, who presented a tutorial on solar cell measurements.

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 the video below to explain the technique. Watch this video to learn how to implement spectral mismatch corrections in your own lab.

Want to learn the basics of some of the leading PV technologies? The other videos below are lectures from NREL scientists on various technology areas.

Spectral Mismatch

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. Text version

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

Cadmium Telluride PV

Matt Reese discusses the history and recent developments in cadmium telluride thin film solar cells. Text version

Contact

For more information, contact Annie Greenaway and Silvana Ovaitt at HOPE.workshop@nrel.gov.

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