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Recent News

Fall 2021


Energy System Group Members Zewei Chen, Yiru Li, Wasiu Peter Oladipupo, Edwin Rodriguez, Gary Sawyer, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Alternative ordering of process hierarchy for more efficient and cost-effective valorization of shale resources” was published in Cell Reports Physical Science.

Energy System Group Undergraduate Researcher Arsh Bhatia received OUR scholarship for 2021-2022 academic year. Congratulations Arsh!


Summer 2021


Separations Research Group Members Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, Zewei Chen, Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Energy-efficient membrane cascades for industrial separations” was published in Computer Aided Chemical Engineering.

Separations Research Group Members Tony Joseph Mathew, Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “A Simple Criterion for Feasibility of Heat Integration between Distillation Streams Based on Relative Volatilities” was published in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.

Separations Research Group Members Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Optimal design of membrane cascades for gaseous and liquid mixtures via MINLP” was published in Journal of Membrane Science.

Separations Research Group member Tony Joseph Mathew successfully defended his thesis. Congratulations Tony!

Separations Research Group Members Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Methods to Assess Numerous Distillation Schemes for Binary Mixtures” was published in Chemical Engineering Research and Design.


Spring 2021


Tony Joseph Mathew and Zewei Chen both gave oral presentations at the 2021 AIChE Spring Meeting

Solar Energy Research Group member Swapnil Dattatray Deshmukh received the Outstanding Research Award 2021 from the College of Engineering. Congratulations, Swapnil!

Separations Research Group Member Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Systematic Analysis Reveals Thermal Separations Are Not Necessarily Most Energy Intensive” was published in Joule.


Fall 2020


Energy Systems Research Group member Zewei Chen received the Bill Murray Fellowship for 2020-21 academic year. Congratulations Zewei!


Separations Research Group members Tony Joseph Mathew, Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Quickly Assess Distillation Columns” was published in Chemical Engineering Progress.


Solar Energy Research Group member Swapnil Deshmukh won the Second Place Award in the 2020 AIChE Graduate Student Award Competition in the Inorganic Chemistry Area. Congratulations Swapnil!


Separations Research Group member Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty successfully defended his thesis. Congratulations Radhakrishna!


Summer 2020


Tony Joseph Mathew received first place for his Oral Presentation in the Energy and Process Intensification & Biotechnology category, and won the Best Overall award, at the 29th Annual Symposium organized by Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Organization. Congratulations, Tony!


David Rokke received first place for his Oral Presentation in the Material Science category at the 29th Annual Symposium organized by Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Organization. Congratulations, David!


Solar Energy Research Group members David Rokke and Swapnil Deshmukh’s submissions to the 2020 Annual AIChE conference are accepted for an oral presentation and two Graduate Student Award Oral Presentations respectively.


Separations Research Group member Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco successfully defended his thesis. Congratulations Adrian!


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal and Separations Research Group Member Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty’s manuscript “Misconceptions about Efficiency and Maturity of Distillation” was published in AIChE Journal.


Separations Research Group member Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty is a winner of the 2020 AIChE Separations Division Graduate Student Research Award in the Distillation and Absorption area. Congratulations Radhakrishna!


Solar Energy Research Group member Swapnil Deshmukh is a winner of the best student paper award at the 47th IEEE PVSC. Congratulations Swapnil!


Separations Research Group member Zewei Chen, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript, “Classification and Comparison of Dividing Walls for Distillation Columns” was published in Processes.


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal is interviewed on the Purdue University College of Engineering’s podcast, “Sounds Like the Future” on Episode 08: Advancing Sustainability Across Disciplines. Prof. Agrawal discusses his research and interests centered around sustainability


Solar Energy Research Group members Swapnil Deshmukh, Kyle Weideman, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript, “Analyzing and Tuning the Chalcogen–Amine–Thiol Complexes for Tailoring of Chalcogenide Syntheses” was published in Inorganic Chemistry


Spring 2020


Solar Energy Research Group members Ryan Ellis, Jonathan Turnley, David Rokke, Jacob Fields, Essam Alruqobah, Swapnil Deshmukh, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript, “Hybrid Ligand Exchange of Cu(In,Ga)S2 Nanopartcles for Carbon Impurity Removal in Solution Processed Photovoltaics” was published in Chemistry of Materials


Solar Energy Research Group member Essam AlRuqobah’s and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript, “Potassium Treatments for Solution-Processed Cu(In,Ga)(S,Se)2 Solar Cells” was published in ACS Applied Energy Materials


Solar Energy Research Group member Joseph Andler successfully defended his thesis. Congratulations Joe!


Solar Energy Research Group members, Ryan Ellis and Swapnil Deshmukh’s submissions to IEEE’s 2020 PVSC conference were both selected for (now virtual) oral presentations


Solar Energy Research Group member, David Rokke, is accepted to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Hands on Photovoltaic Experience (HOPE) 2020 program, a week long on-site educational program with field experts at NREL


Group member Tony Mathew received the 2020 Estus H. and Vashti L. Magoon Award for Excellence in Teaching by the College of Engineering for his teaching assistantship of CHE660: Chemical Reaction Engineering during the Spring 2019 semester


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal and alumni Xianyi Hu are co-authors of a newly published book, “Sustainable Photovoltaics,” which is an overview of various research projects that were a part of the SERIIUS funding network


Group members Ryan Ellis, Swapnil Deshmukh, and Zewei Chen all receive $1000 travel grants from the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering for conference travel


Solar Energy Research Group members Ryan Ellis and Swapnil Deshmukh’s submissions to the 2020 Spring MRS conference are accepted for oral presentations


Fall 2019


Solar Energy Research Group member Ryan Ellis wins first place in the Electronics and Photonic Materials Graduate Student Awards Session at the 2019 AIChE Annual Meeting for his oral presentation. Congratulations, Ryan!


Prof. Agrawal is an invited panelist for the Meet the Innovators presentation and panel discussion at the 2019 AIChE Annual Meeting


Ryan Ellis, Kyle Weideman, Zewei Chen, Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, Yiru Li, and Peter Oladipupo all give oral presentations at the 2019 AIChE Annual Meeting


Solar Energy Research Group members Swapnil Deshmukh,* Ryan Ellis,* David Rokke, Dwi Sutandar and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal publish a paper titled, “Versatile Colloidal Synthesis of Metal Chalcogenide Nanoparticles from Elemental Precursors using Amine-Thiol Chemistry” in Chemistry of Materials


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal is awarded the Phillip C. Wankat Graduate Teaching Award in Chemical Engineering recognizing his achievements as an instructor in graduate-level courses. Congratulations, Prof. Agrawal!


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal writes a “Behind the Paper” blog post for Nature Sustainability describing the motivation behind the recently published paper


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal and Prof. Mitch Tunistra write a second blog post on Medium discussing the concept of Aglectric Farming


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal and Prof. Mitch Tunistra write a blog post on Medium featuring the NRT team and their research along with the new Nature Sustainability publication


Group alumni Caleb Miskin and current group members Yiru Li, Ryan Ellis, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal publish, “Sustainable co-production of food and solar power to relax land-use constraints” in Nature Sustainability


Solar Energy

Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Associates

   

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Graduate Students

 

David Rokke

Google Scholar

Research Interests

My research focuses on the design and optimization of molecular precursor inks for the fabrication of high-efficiency Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenium (CIGS) solar cells. Specifically, I’m working on more environmentally friendly processes that minimize or eliminate the use of hazardous materials in order to create a system that could be more easily scaled to an industrial process with the aim of reducing photovoltaic manufacturing costs.

Awards and Honors

  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities – University Honors Program
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities – Maroon and Gold Leadership Award

Educational Background

2012-2016, B.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Latin Honors

Contact Information

drokke@purdue.edu

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Shubhanshu Agarwal

Research Interests

My research focuses on optimizing the processing conditions to improve the optoelectronic properties of chalcopyrite based solar cells. Currently I’m working towards achieving high minority carrier lifetime for the AgInSe2 absorber films.

Awards and Honors

  • Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur – General Proficiency Medal
  • Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur – Academic Excellence Award 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18
  • Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur – Ajay Agarwal Memorial Prize

Educational Background

2014-2018,  B. Tech, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India

Contact Information

agarw228@purdue.edu

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Daniel Hayes

Research Interests

My research involves the use of a benign, solution-based approach to fabricate photovoltaic devices from chalcopyrite nanoparticles. Recent works have focused on manipulation of nanoparticle ligand chemistry in order to synthesize nanoparticles for fabrication of thin films with more favorable optoelectronic properties, ultimately leading to higher efficiency devices.

Awards and Honors

  • Purdue University – Ross Fellowship
  • Outstanding Senior Award, Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Alabama 2019

Educational Background

2014-2019, B.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Alabama

Contact Information

hayes187@purdue.edu

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Kyle Weideman

Research Interests

My research focuses on optimizing the performance of solution-processed thin film thermoelectric and photovoltaic devices in order to provide cost-effective and environmentally friendly energy solutions. By developing an in-depth understanding of chalcogenide thin film formation I strive to better engineer the composition and structure of these materials towards enhanced properties relevant to energy production applications.

Awards and Honors

  • Purdue University – Teaching Academy Graduate Teaching Award
  • Davidson School of Chemical Engineering, Purdue University – Centennial Award
  • Purdue University – Ross Fellowship
  • University of Minnesota – Presidential Scholar

Educational Background

2011-2015, B.Ch.E, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Contact Information

kweidem@purdue.edu

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Jonathan Turnley

Google Scholar

Research Interests

My research focuses on the developing and tuning the chemistry of molecular precursor inks for solution-processed Cu(In,Ga)(S,Se)2 thin films and applying this chemistry to synthesize novel chalcogenide semiconductors.

Awards and Honors

  • Purdue University – Andrews Fellowship
  • Presbyterian College – Valedictorian
  • Presbyterian College – Outstanding Senior in Physics and Chemistry
  • Big South Conference – Christenberry Award for Academic Excellence

Educational Background

2014-2018, B.S. Chemistry, B.S. Physics, Presbyterian College

Contact Information

jturnley@purdue.edu

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Apurva Pradhan

Google Scholar

Research Interests

My research focuses on creating high efficiency and low cost solar cells that utilize earth abundant elements such as copper, arsenic, and sulfur. Solution-based approaches, including nanoparticle-based and molecular precursor-based film growth, have shown great potential for the scalable manufacture of stable solar cells. These solution-based approaches are being further studied with the ultimate goal of roll-to-roll manufacture of these thin-film solar cells.

Awards and Honors

  • UC Berkeley Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship
  • Cal Alumni Leadership Award
  • UC Berkeley College of Chemistry Dean’s Research Award

Educational Background

2012-2016, B.S. Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of California-Berkeley

2016-2018, M.S. Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

2016-2018, M.S. Engineering and Technology Innovation Management, Carnegie Mellon University

Contact Information

pradhaa@purdue.edu

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Anna Murray

Research Interests

My research is on improving the material quality of solution processed ACZTSe nanoparticle films and optimizing their device architecture. I will also be improving methods to extract device properties by characterizing absorber films.

Educational Background

2014-2018, B.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Washington

Contact Information

murra191@purdue.edu

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Ryan Swope

Research Interests

My research focuses on developing the chemistry for synthesizing chalcogenide perovskites using earth-abundant elements and exploring their potential use in photovoltaic devices as an alternative to current materials.

Educational Background

2015-2018, B.A. Chemistry, Arcadia University

2018-2020, B.S. Chemical Engineering, Columbia University

Contact Information

swoper@purdue.edu

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Robert Spilker

Research Interests

I am interested in solution processed Cu(In,Ga)(S,Se)2 solar cells. By further studying amine-thiol chemistry I hope to develop novel methods of film fabrication with the goal of improving device performance and lowering manufacturing costs.

Educational Background

2016-2020, B.S. Chemical Engineering, Miami University

Contact Information

rspilker@purdue.edu


Postdoctoral Associates

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Shreyash Hadke

Google Scholar

Research Interests

My research focuses on the use of optoelectronic characterization techniques to explore recombination mechanisms and point defect characteristics in thin film solar cells.

Awards and Honors

  • University Nanyang Technological University Research Scholarship

Educational Background

2016-2020, Ph.D. Materials Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
 
2014-2016, M.S. Nano Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
 
2010-2014, B.Tech. Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur, India

Contact Information

shadke@purdue.edu

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Alumni

Swapnil Deshmukh 

Dr. Swapnil Deshmukh

Dr. Swapnil Deshmukh’s research interest involved discovering a methodology to manufacture solar cells with higher efficiency, low cost of manufacturing and environment friendly chemical system. He worked on nanocrystal and quantum dots synthesis in which he came up with a novel and benign chemistry for synthesizing nanocrystals of various systems which made the idea of roll-to-roll solar cell processing more feasible.
 

Dr. Essam Alruqobah

Dr. Essam Alruqobah’s research interests were in nanocrystal-based approaches to develop low-cost photovoltaic devices. Dr. Alruqobah also investigated new and novel earth-abundant materials that can potentially be good candidates for PV devices. Dr. Alruqobah’s research also involved optoelectronic characterization of solar cell devices.
Ryan Ellis 

Dr. Ryan Ellis

In Dr. Ryan Ellis’ research he investigated methods to create highly efficient, low cost, solution processed thin film photovoltaic devices. Solution processing is a promising method of device fabrication which forgoes typical high vacuum processes. As such, solution processing can allow for roll to roll fabrication of solar cells, significantly bringing down the cost of manufacturing. Dr. Ellis explored the ligand chemistry of CIGS nanocrystals for use in CIGSSe photovoltaics.
 

Dr. Joseph Andler

The motivation behind my research is to develop and/or enhance sustainable energy technologies, especially solar. In general, I am interested in understanding grain nucleation, growth, and facets in order to engineer improved thin film devices. I hope to understand these mechanisms in the context of novel PV materials.
 

Dr. Xianyi Hu

Dr. Xianyi Hu’s research involved investigation of cost effective solution processed thin film solar cells regarding band gap engineering between the p-type and n-type materials, as well as developing novel absorber materials in TiO2 architecture based photovoltaic devices.
Scott McClary 

Dr. Scott McClary

Dr. Scott McClary’s research focused on the application of novel chalcogenide materials in solar cells and thermoelectric devices. The promise of such materials lies in their constituent earth abundant elements and predicted optimal optoelectronic properties. Solution-based methods, including nanoparticles and molecular precursors, are used in order to minimize processing costs and ensure scalability.
Caleb Miskin 

Dr. Caleb Miskin

Dr. Caleb Miskin’s work focused on solving humanity’s grand challenges at the nexus of food, energy, and water needs with an emphasis on solution-processed electronic devices such as photovoltaics and thermoelectrics. Caleb’s work was very diverse, spanning solution processed CZTS as an earth abundant absorber, molecular precursor based cadmium telluride photovoltaics, and solar spectrum splitting for food, energy, and water applications.
 

Dr. Brian Graeser

Dr. Brian Graeser worked on the development of nanoparticle syntheses and sintering processes for new photovoltaic absorber materials using earth abundant elements for solution processed photovoltaics.
 

Dr. Mark Koeper

Dr. Mark Koeper’s research interests involved fabricating solution processed thin-film photovoltaic devices and electrical and optical characterization of thin-film solar cells. Dr. Koeper was actively involved in using admittance spectroscopy to study defects in multiple photovoltaic devices to enhance understanding of their limitations. Dr. Koeper was also involved in fabricating derivatives of the CZTS absorber layer with the goal of reducing inherit defects and improving device performance.
 

Dr. Steven McLeod

Dr. Steven McLeod’s research focused on the thermal processing of solution based CIGS nanoparticle films. As coated nanoparticle films make poor solar cell absorbers and must be converted to large-grain crystals, this is accomplished by a high temperature selenization process. Steven’s research goal yielded a deeper kinetic understanding of the selenization step, and has allowed for use of the information gained to optimize our processing methods and create high efficiency solar cells.
 

Dr. Xin Zhao

Dr. Xin Zhao worked on the development of high-efficieny, scalable, environmental friendly and low-cost solution processed thin film solar cells, specifically the use of molecular precursor solutions to cast films of CIGSe for solution processed photovoltaics.
 

Dr. Chuck Hages

Dr. Chuck Hages worked on nanocrystal synthesis of metal chalcogenide materials for semiconductor applications:
– Detailed electronic characterization and modeling of semiconductor devices
– Developed novel material systems for photovoltaic applications
– Investigated absorber sintering/coarsening mechanisms through rapid thermal processing
– Designed and constructed/developed evaporation, sputtering, and thermal processing equipment
– Optoelectronic and materials characterization of semiconductor nanocrystals and absorbers
– Fabricated record efficiency Cu2Zn(Sn,Ge)(S,Se)4 solar cells and nanocrystal-based Cu2ZnSn(S,Se)4 solar cells
– Published eleven peer-reviewed journal articles, twelve conference proceedings, and a book chapter
– Delivered eight research presentations to international audiences at professional meetings
– Collaborated in international and multi-disciplinary research projects
 

Dr. Erick Sheets

Dr. Erick Sheets focused on the following areas of research:
1) Develop novel alternative solar absorption materials for sustainable solar cells.
2) Synthesize earth abundant solution-based nanocrystals.
3) Characterize nanocrystals by SEM, TEM, FTIR, UV-Vis, PL, PXRD, etc.
4) Construct solar devices and measure performance via optical characterizations.

 

Dr. Kevin Brew

Dr. Kevin Brew worked on solution processing of nanoparticles for photovoltaic applications. His background is in nanoparticle materials synthesis and characterization, specifically with ligand chemistry. 

 

 

Dr. Ruihong Zhang

Dr. Ruihong Zhang worked to develop a versatile direct solution route for the deposition of metal chalcogenide semiconductor materials. Metal chalcogenides include binary, ternary, and quaternary sulfides and selenides. Dr. Zhang worked on the following:
– Fabricate copper zinc tin selenide thin-film solar cells with power conversion efficiencies of 8% using the developed solution route.
– Study the correlation between composition and solar cell performance.
– Characterize nanoparticles and thin films using XRD, Raman, SEM/FIB, SEM/EDX, TEM, and STEM.
– Characterize solar cell performance based on J-V and external quantum efficiency.
– Initiate the direct solution processing study in the lab, and patented the developed solution route in August 2014.
 

Dr. Nathan Carter

 
 

Dr. Bryce Walker

Low-cost photovoltaics from nanomaterials utilizing liquid deposition techniques
First lab safety administrator April 2011-July 2012
Developed safety instruction, methods for communicating safety concerns, and lab safety manual
Senior lab member since May 2011
Responsible for training, mentoring, and overseeing other grad students, postdoctoral researchers, and undergraduate students
Assisted in writing research grant proposals
 

Dr. Grayson Ford

Responsible for all steps in the device fabrication process (metal PVD, QD synthesis, ink coating, rapid thermal processing, chemical solution deposition, TCO PVD, thermal evaporation of grid)
– Responsible for all characterization (IV, EQE, CV, XRD, TEM, SEM, EDX, UV-vis)
– Expanded Cu2ZnSn(S,Se)4 (CZTS) material system to include Ge for band gap profile engineering of Cu2Zn(Sn,Ge)(S,Se)4 solar cells from CZTGS nanocrystal ink (6.8% efficiency achieved)
– In team of three, achieved penultimate efficiency for CZTS solar cells (2010-2011)
– In team of two, developed fabrication procedure for 12% efficient solar cells from Cu(In,Ga)S2 nanocrystal inks, with ~2% absolute efficiency increase per year (average) over project lifetime
 

Dr. Qijie Guo

Pioneered the development of solution-based methods for the fabrication of high-efficiency CIGSSe and CZTSSe thin film solar cells using chalcogenide nanoparticles. Developed commercially-relevant processing technologies for the fabrication of high-efficiency thin film solar cells using chalcogenide nanoparticles.
 

Dr. Mahaprasad Kar

Proposed the mechanism of formation of CuInSe2 nanocrystals based on spectroscopic data and thermodynamic calculations for applications in low-cost solar cells.
– Developed a low-cost, chemical liquid deposition method of CuInSe2 thin films on flexible substrates.
– Fabricated device-quality films followed by complete device fabrication into functional solar cells.
– Installed solar cell testing equipment and performed electrical characterization of the flexible solar cells.
– Modeled the solar cells to identify the shortcomings and improved device efficiency by optimizing device-processing steps.
 

Dr. Hye Yeon Park

Development of synthetic procedure for tunable composition of multinary nanoparticle and nanocrystal ink to control material/optical properties: Nanoparticle synthesis, film deposition and device fabrication of novel nancrystals for photovoltaic applications. Device fabrication process for thin film solar cells: PVD, hot-injection synthesis, nanocrystal ink coating, chemical vapor deposition, TCO PVD
 

Chinmay Joglekar (M.S.)

I worked on developing new materials for solar cells which would be cost effective, easy to scale and widely available. I worked with a team of engineers and scientists to improve solar cell efficiency of CZTS solar cells from 7.2 to 9.2 %
 

Bethlehem Negash (M.S.)

Synthesize nanoparticles, via solution based route, for the application of thin film solar cells.
Analyze size, structure, and elemental composition of synthesized nanoparticles via PXRD, SEM and Raman Spectroscopy.
Produce finished photovoltaic devices and characterize device properties.
Robert Boyne 

Robert Boyne (M.S.)

Research Interests

My research involved looking at alternative solar cell architectures for traditional thin-film materials.The long term goal is to find architectures to make devices from new experimental materials.The long term goal is to be able to compare newly developed materials to existing materials and examine their fundamental properties in a working device. Current materials either involve rare, limited elements or are fundamentally limited in efficiency. Proper understanding of these materials is necessary to evaluate which materials may be effective advancements for earth-abundant thin-film solar cells.