Distinguished lecture to focus on photovoltaics April 1

March 30, 2015 | Events, Research, UToday, Natural Sciences and Mathematics
By Kevin Bucher

The Academic Honors Committee will host Dr. Robert Collins as part of the Distinguished University Professor Lecture Series.



The free, public lecture, “Polarized Wave Probes for Thin-Film Photovoltaics: From the Lab to the Production Line,” will take place Wednesday, April 1, at 4 p.m. in Memorial Field House Room 2100 with a reception to follow.

Collins holds the positions of Distinguished University Professor, NEG Endowed Chair of Silicate and Materials Science, and co-director of the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization in the UT Department of Physics and Astronomy.

He will speak about his work with the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization, recent developments in second-generation photovoltaics in his group’s laboratory, and how it impacts second-generation photovoltaics in use today.

Second-generation or thin-film photovoltaic modules incorporate several thin layers of different solid-state materials applied to low-cost substrates such as glass or stainless steel foil for direct conversion of sunlight to electricity.

“It is an exciting time for this technology. In addition to their application for utility scale power, thin-film photovoltaics have a wider range of applications that rely on its potential for flexibility, lightweight and portability, as an example, generating emergency power for disaster relief,” Collins said. “The potential exists for low-cost manufacturing of thin-film photovoltaics, which have been realized by the industry leaders.

“A key goal, however, is to translate the recent significant efficiency improvements made in the laboratory to the production line.”

At UT Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization, a team of faculty, staff and students are developing and applying diagnostic probes of thin-film photovoltaic material systems using polarized electromagnetic waves. The team also is collaborating with local companies such as Calyxo and NSG Pilkington to advance second-generation photovoltaics.

“We value the opportunity to work with Toledo area companies to advance this technology,” Collins said.

In 2004, he joined The University of Toledo, where his interests span from condensed matter physics to optical and materials sciences with applications in photovoltaic devices, optical instrumentation and metrology.

Collins was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2014 for “advancing the understanding of the optical properties and structures of thin-film materials and devices, for innovations in real-time spectroscopic ellipsometry, and for leadership of research collaborations of industrial, government and university laboratories.”

He received a bachelor’s degree from Clark University and master’s and doctoral degrees in applied physics from Harvard University.

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