The Solar Power Laboratory runs undergraduate research projects, many of which are provided by the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative (FURI). Read more about the experiences of a recent undergraduate researcher here.
Natasa Vulic is helping improve the efficiency of solar cells to meet future energy demand. She began her research in ASU’s Solar Power Lab as an ASU undergraduate in the Barrett Honors College and is continuing as a graduate student. Her outlet from all that mental work is running up to 90 miles per week as a Sun Devil athlete on the cross-country team.
Arizona State University takes full advantage of being in the "Valley of the Sun" and has an agressive program to install photovoltaic generating systems with more installed PV capacity than any other university in the United States. The installations are starting to pay real dividends. On February 24 half the power used on campus in the middle of the day was provided by photovoltaic systems.
Twelve students just finished the latest course on the manufacture of solar cells at ASU. At the completion of the course the students were able to complete the manufacture of high efficiency solar cells on the pilot line at the solar power labs. Half the students came from across the US as part of the QESST engineering research center, and the other half were from the SUN IGERT program at ASU.
The performance of a solar cell depends on the intrinsically on the parameters of the junction. The goal of the class is to expand the understanding and analysis of junctions from the relatively ideal cases typically considered to include advanced concepts and approaches. The goals of the class are to first analyze pn junctions and include non-idealities such as surface recombination; injection-level or doping-dependence; and material parameters which are time, spatially or temperature dependent. The class then covers advanced topics in junctions, such as multi-junctions and the tunnel junctions between them; the physics of heterojunctions; and other junctions such Schottky diodes, Ohmic contacts and MIS approaches. Finally, the course examines new concepts in junction theory such as induced junctions, and carrier or energy selective contacts.
In Fall 2012 ASU and QESST started a new class on the manufacture of silicon solar cells – the same type of cells used in nearly all solar photovoltaic systems installed worldwide. Students learn about modern techniques of solar cell fabrication in their classroom. Students also work as “virtual engineers” in the Virtual Solar Cell Factory – an online solar cell factory simulation – where they will have attempt to “save the company” using the manufacturing engineering science techniques being taught in their classroom.
ASU continues to install photovoltaic systems across the constituent campuses. Presently over 15 MW of capacity are installed with an expected capacity of 17 MW by the end of 2012.
Milestones as of June 30, 2012: Total Solar Generation Capacity:15.3 MW Total Solar Systems: 58
(52 on Tempe campus; 2 on West campus; 2 on Downtown campus; 2 on Polytechnic campus) Total Number of Panels and Collectors Installed: 61,203
The is more information on the individual systems at: