Dana Kern

Dana Kern

Researcher IV-Materials Science

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Dana Sulas-Kern joined NREL as a postdoctoral researcher in 2018, and she has split her time at NREL between two areas: photovoltaic module/cell reliability and solar photochemistry. Under these programs, Dana enjoys both fundamental research on the ultrafast processes for photoinduced charge generation in novel materials, as well as more applied research for understanding and characterizing reliability of commercialized photovoltaics as well as research-level devices.

She received her doctorate from the University of Washington–Seattle in physical chemistry, where she worked in the groups of Cody Schlenker and David Ginger studying the mechanisms of charge generation in organic photovoltaic materials. Prior to this, Dana received her bachelor's degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she carried out undergraduate research in photoactive polymer synthesis in Tim Swager’s group. 

Research Interests

Photovoltaics – device physics, reliability, and durability

Luminescence and thermal imaging

Ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy

Time-resolved microwave photoconductivity

Photoinduced charge transfer 


Ph.D., Physical Chemistry, University of Washington – Seattle 

M.S., Physical Chemistry, University of Washington – Seattle

B.S., Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

B.S., Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Professional Experience

Postdoctoral Researcher, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (2018–present) 

Graduate Research Fellow, Brookhaven National Laboratory – Sfeir Research Group (2017) 

Graduate Research/Teaching Assistant, University of Washington (2011–2017) 

Intern, National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Gregg Research Group (2010) 

Intern, Cool Earth Solar (2009) 

Research Assistant, MIT Chemistry Department – Swager Research Group (2007-2008)

Intern, Centrose (2007) 

Featured Work

The 2020 Photovoltaic Technologies Roadmap, Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics (2020) 

Photoinduced Charge Transfer in Transition Metal Dichalcogenide Heterojunctions–Towards Next Generation Energy TechnologiesEnergy & Environmental Science (2020) 

Methods for In Situ Electroluminescence Imaging of Photovoltaic Modules Under Varying Environmental ConditionsIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics (2020) 

Dark Lock-in Thermography Identifies Solder Bond Failure as the Root Cause of Series Resistance Increase in Fielded Solar Modules, IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics (2020) 

Imaging Lateral Drift Kinetics to Understand Causes of Outdoor Degradation in Silicon Heterojunction Photovoltaic ModulesSolar RRL (2019) 

Fill Factor Loss in Fielded Photovoltaic Modules Due to Metallization Failures, Characterized by Luminescence and Thermal Imaging, IEEE 46th Photovoltaic Specialists Conference PVSC (2019) 

Microsecond Charge Separation at Heterojunctions between Transition Metal Dichalcogenide Monolayers and Single-Walled Carbon ManotubesMaterials Horizons (2019) 

Effect of Nanotube Coupling on Exciton Transport in Polymer-Free Monochiral Semiconducting Carbon Nanotube NetworksNanoscale (2019) 

Toward All-Solid-State Lithium Batteries: Three-Dimensional Visualization of Lithium Migration in β-Li3PS4 Ceramic ElectrolyteThe Journal of the Electrochemical Society (2018) 

Defect Detection in Solid-State Battery Electrolytes Using Lock-In Thermal ImagingThe Journal of the Electrochemical Society (2018) 

Awards and Honors

Director’s Award, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (2019)

Best Poster Awards – Photovoltaic Specialists Conference; Photovoltaics Reliability Workshop (2019) 

National Science Foundation – Graduate Research Internship Program (2017)

National Science Foundation – Graduate Research Fellowship Program (2012 – 2016) 

American Chemical Society, Chemistry of Materials – Editor’s Choice, Top 5 Most Read Article (2015)

National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (2012) 

David M. Ritter Chemistry Graduate Fellowship Award (2011) 

U.S. Department of Energy – Science and Energy Research Challenge: First Place in Energy (2010) 

University of Oxford Team Design Competition – First Place in Metamaterials (2010)