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Solar & Alternative Energy

David Carlson: Laser processing promises to boost PV efficiency

A new approach to making junctions takes advantage of advances in laser technology, and solar cells reap the benefits.

26 April 2013, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.3201304.07

David E. Carlson received the B.S. degree in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1963 and the Ph.D. in Physics from Rutgers University in 1968. He worked as a Research and Development Physicist at the U.S. Army Nuclear Effects Laboratory, Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland in 1968 and 1969. He served as a U.S. Army Captain in charge of 110 men at a communications site in Pleiku, Vietnam in 1969 and 1970.

In 1970, he joined RCA Laboratories in Princeton, NJ as a member of the technical staff and worked in the areas of ion motion in glasses, glow-discharge deposition of thin films and thin-film photovoltaic devices. Carlson invented the amorphous silicon solar cell at RCA Labs in 1974 and was the first to demonstrate that hydrogenated amorphous silicon could be doped either p- or n-type and could be used to form a semiconductor junction. In 1977, he was appointed Group Head, Photovoltaic Device Research, at RCA Laboratories. In 1983, he joined Solarex Corporation (merged into BP Solar in 1999) as the Director of Research and Deputy General Manager of the Solarex Thin Film Division. He became the General Manager of the Solarex Thin Film Division in 1987 and was promoted to Vice President in 1988. From 1994 to 1999, he was Vice President and Chief Technologist at Solarex, a wholly owned subsidiary of Amoco. When BP acquired Amoco in 1999, Carlson became the Chief Scientist of BP Solar, and managed the Future Technology Programs and the company's intellectual property system. He retired from BP Solar at the end of 2011 and is a consultant and advisor to several organizations involved in photovoltaics.

Among his numerous honors, he was a co-recipient of the 1984 Morris N. Liebmann Award (IEEE), the Walton Clark Medal (Franklin Institute, 1986), and the Karl W. Boer Medal from the International Solar Energy Society and the University of Delaware (1995) for his outstanding contributions to the field of solar energy.

Carlson is a fellow of the IEEE and a member of the American Physical Society, the American Vacuum Society, and Sigma Xi. He has published more than 150 technical papers, has been issued 26 U.S. patents and has 8 patents pending.