Freiburg physicist named Junior Einstein

06. September 2011 | Markets & Trends, 26th EU PVSEC | By:  Becky Stuart

Thirty-year-old Paul Gundel, who has developed new microscopic measuring methods for the characterization of silicon and solar cells, has been presented with the SolarWorld Junior Einstein Award.

SolarWorld's Frank Asbeck

SolarWorld's Frank Asbeck presented the award. Image: SolarWorld.

The physicist, who wrote his thesis at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, has created a confocal microscope, which can be used to measure such things as the lifetime of solar cells and wafer quality.

"Properties crucial to solar cells like electron lifetime or mechanical stresses can now be measured with a significantly higher level of accuracy," said a statement released.

Holger Neuhaus of SolarWorld added, "The solar cells of the future will display very much finer structures in their basic make-up than today’s generation.
"To this end, the photovoltaic industry will require more precise measuring methods to be able to characterize the structures and properties comprehensively and locally."

He said that Gundel’s invention will help to increase solar cell efficiency.

The microscope has combined a number of techniques, such as photoluminescence, meaning it can take high resolution images of solar wafers. In comparison to optical wafer inspection systems, for example, which have a resolution of one micrometer, the new microscope has a resolution of 100.

Speaking to pv magazine, a happy looking Gundel said he will use part of the €5,000 (USD$7,025) award to throw a party for his colleagues at the Fraunhofer institute.

Gundel was selected from a group of six physicists and scientists, all of whom have focused on developing technology for the solar industry. He is now working for German photovoltaic company, Centrotherm.

It was announced that this year in particular, the selection of the Junior award was extremely difficult. SolarWorld’s Frank Asbeck further stated that based on the talent available, the photovoltaics industry need not have any worries about the future.

Larry Hagman was on hand to announce the award, which was presented before the main Einstein Award.

Look out for more EU PVSEC news this week.

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