This year I had the honour of being funded by the Photovoltaic Innovation Network to attend the IEEE Photovoltaic Specialty Conference (PVSC) in New Orleans, Louisiana. This was my second PVSC conference I have attended and the first PVSC conference at which I have presented.

I arrived on Sunday afternoon for the tutorials where I attended a talk on heterojunction PV technology. The following morning the plenary talks started, where the most striking feature was the amazing growth in the installed base. The growth of total production and increased rollout seemed to be the theme of the plenaries for the week. One presentation that stuck with me from the first day was a graphic that showed how the price of a PV megawatt hour had become competitive with not only coal, but with natural gas as well. However, my favorite talks were later in the day in the parallel sessions; they had to do with the material science behind the production of the cells. Students and professionals from all over the world came to talk about the new innovations in passivation and module materials. With the parallel sessions the audience for each talk was limited so the talks could be more technical. This allowed me to see how other researchers were approaching my chosen area of research.

On Tuesday one of the plenary talks was on surface passivation, and Andres Cuevas (a huge name in surface passivation) talked about the history of surface treatments and measurement techniques for passivation along with selective contacts. The following days followed the same trajectory where there would be a morning session of plenaries aimed at a wide audience followed by more targeted talks in the parallel sessions.

On Thursday I presented my poster on a new passivation scheme for crystalline silicon. I ended up having to start 20 minutes early and end 15 minutes late due to the interest.

The venue was near the cultural center of the city on the east side of the central business district. During my stay I was able to sample the cuisine and culture of the Louisiana Delta. The food and music was excellent and the service lived up the reputation of legendary southern hospitality.


-David Barchet