Tonio Buonassisi, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, runs a research laboratory with an interdisciplinary focus on photovoltaics (solar energy conversion into electricity). Prof. Buonassisi completed his Ph.D. research at UC Berkeley, with emphasis on understanding and controlling metal-related defects in multicrystalline silicon solar cells. Subsequently, he became a crystal growth scientist at the ribbon-silicon-producing Evergreen Solar, Inc. (Marlborough, Massachusetts), where he was part of the team that developed the next generation crystal growth furnace (the "Quad" platform), and spearheaded cross-team efforts to improve solar cell efficiency and mechanical yield in crystal growth and cell fabrication. Prof. Buonassisi was also a visiting scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Freiburg, Germany), and at the Max-Planck-Institute for Microstructure Physics (Halle, Germany). Aside from teaching classes focusing on photovoltaic technologies, Prof. Buonassisi is author or co-author on 58 journal, conference, and workshop articles focused on solar energy, and has delivered over 33 invited talks and plenary/oral presentations on his work in the United States, Europe, and Asia. His work has been honored with numerous awards, including European Materials Research Society Young Scientist Presentation Award, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Graduate Research Fellowship, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Graduate Student Award.
The mission of the Buonassisi Photovoltaics Laboratory is to accelerate the adoption of photovoltaic (solar electricity) technologies via breakthroughs efficiency improvement, cost reduction, de-bottlenecking, and increased materials utilization. The group leverages extensive nanofabrication facilities available at MIT, in collaboration with National User Facilities around the country, to fabricate and characterize commercial and next-generation photovoltaic materials and devices, with emphases on impurity/defect tolerance and nano-defect engineering. The group also combines business and technology considerations in evaluating solar energy technologies.