Photo of Timothy Coutts

Timothy Coutts

Contingent Worker-Emeritus Researcher


Dr. Timothy Coutts is a Research Fellow Emeritus of the National Center for Photovoltaics at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Dr. Coutts' research areas include thin-film science, photovoltaics, and thermophotovoltaics.


  • Ph.D.(scattering processes in thin metal films) awarded by the University of Northumbria, 1968.
  • Applied Physics awarded by University of Wearside, 1964

Professional Experience

Thin-film science

Involved in thin-film physics since 1964. Projects concerned with charge transfer in thin copper films (PhD) thin-film strain gauges, thin-film cermet materials, charge transfer in discontinuous thin-films, surface scattering in thin-metal films, characterization of the properties of high-performance transparent conducting oxides. Charge scattering characterization in TCOs using the 4-coefficient method, as well as optical modeling. Development of high quality TCOs using common, non-toxic elements. Closely involved in modeling and development of tandem thin-film cells.


Active involvement in photovoltaics since 1970. Experience the development of CdS/CuxS, ITO/InP, CdS/CdTe, InP homojunction solar cells for space application, CIGS and CdTe thin film solar cells.


Keen interest in TPV since 1992. Responsible for initiation of TPV studies at NREL and Leader of TPV group until 1996. Current interests concern development of non-military programs in TPV, potential applications, economics, markets, semiconductor converters, burners, and other components in TPV systems.

Professional Activities

  • Short course instructor for the AVS since 1986, teaching courses on:
    • Physics of Metal/Semiconductor Contacts
    • Transparent Conducting Contacts
  • Adjunct Professor in Electrical Engineering School at Colorado University.
  • Adjunct Professor at the Colorado School of Mines in Physics Department
  • Member of the Executive Committee for the Photovoltaic Specialists Conference since 1986
  • Chairman of the 9th. SERI PV AR&D Meeting (May 1989)
  • Chairman of the 2nd.International Conference on InP and Related Materials (Denver April 1990)
  • Editor-in Chief of the journal Solar Cells (Elsevier Sequoia)
  • Editor of the book series Current Topics in Photovoltaics (4 volumes published by Academic Press)
  • Editor of first six proceedings of the NREL TPV conferences (6 volumes published by the American Institute of Physics)

Associations and Accreditations/Memberships

  • Fellow of the American Vacuum Society
  • Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers
  • Member of the American Physical Society
  • Fellow of the British Institute of Physics


  • Infrared camouflage method: T. J. Coutts, K. J. Lawson, and D. J. Highgate, Cranfield Institute of Technology, (1975)
  • Thin transparent conducting films of cadmium stannate: X. Wu, and T. J. Coutts (NREL IR#9545)
  • PV devices comprising cadmium stannate transparent conducting films and method for making: X. Wu, P. Sheldon, T. J. Coutts, and D. Rose (NREL IR#9535)
  • PV devices comprising zinc stannate buffer layer and method for making: X. Wu, P. Sheldon, and T. J. Coutts (NREL IR#9721) (filed)


View all NREL publications for Dr. Coutts.

Awards and Honors

  • SERI Staff Award for Outstanding Achievement (1986)
  • NREL Hubbard award for Outstanding Research Leadership (1994)
  • AVS Fellow for work on transparent conducting oxides (1998)
  • Designated as NREL Research Fellow (1993)
  • John Thornton Award of the American Vacuum Society (1999)
  • IEEE William R. Cherry Award (2005)
  • Chair, PVSC33 (May 2008)