Doctoral student receives top honors for solar cell research

SEAS doctoral candidate Kevin Nay Yaung received the Best Student Presentation Award at the 40th IEEE Photovoltaics Specialists Conference in the category “III-V and Concentrator Technologies.” The conference, with over 1500 attendees and more than 1000 abstract submissions, is considered the preeminent international conference for the science and technology of photovoltaics.

Kevin Nay Yaung (right) with co-author Jordan Lang (left)

Nay Yaung’s presentation described recent efforts to marry the high-efficiency of III-V solar cell materials—which are made with elements such as gallium, arsenic, and phosphorus—with the low-cost manufacturing infrastructure of silicon. Silicon-based photovoltaics comprise roughly 90% of the multi-billion dollar solar cell market, creating tremendous incentive to discover techniques that can enhance silicon cell efficiency.

The Yale team’s research shows that temperature can be used to control the rate of defect formation in III-V layers grown on silicon, allowing higher-quality material with fewer electrical “traps.” This discovery enabled the team to improve III-V on silicon solar cell performance and might lead to the creation of silicon-based devices with dramatically higher efficiencies than are currently possible.

Nay Yaung was recognized for his talk entitled, “Towards High Efficiency GaAsP Solar Cells on (001) GaP/Si.” His co-authors were Yale Climate and Energy Institute postdoctoral fellow Jordan Lang and doctoral student Joseph Faucher. All three authors work in the laboratory of Minjoo Larry Lee, associate professor of electrical engineering.