Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)
QESST’s student led pilot line not only helps undergraduates, young scholars, and community college faculty learn about diffuse junction silicon solar cell fabrication it is also an epicenter of content driven informal interaction between QESST Scholars. The student led pilot line is hosted QESST scholars from all of the QESST partner institutions. This summer three students from the University of Delaware Kevin Jones, Meixi Chen, Jimmy Hack. Our participating In Solar Cell 101. Although all three graduate students conduct research in other materials they have an opportunity to explore the dominant solar technology and it provides an opportunity for students from across QESST to get to know each other, learn from each other, and feel a greater connection to the QESST Engineering Research Center.
The first two weeks of the SPL summer programs focused on fabrication of silicon solar cells. Students began with a silicon substrate and ended with a functioning Mini module. Along the way the students had an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in their chemistry, physics, circuits, and material science courses to practical problem: How to create a functioning photovoltaic device. (Picture of Student working together here). They had exposure to laboratory procedures and sophisticated fabrication equipment, providing them with the experience that they need to participate in research projects as they progress in their education. Throughout this process students learned an additional important lesson, sometimes things don’t turn out the way that they planned. In the final step of the process students were asked to take their completed cells and turn them into functioning devices. As part of this process students had to spend time manipulating and soldering these very fragile cells. (Demiti picture here). Understandably many cells broke, meaning that days of learning and labor has literally fallen apart in their hands. However the students kept at it and ended up with complete modules they could take home knowing how very difficult and rewarding engineering can be.