Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) Researcher Dr. Neelkanth G. Dhere recently received the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) Institutes and Centers Award for Distinguished Research.COCOA, Florida – July 3, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] “We believe Dr. Dhere is part of the cream of the crop of university researchers,” said Windell Gilliam, deputy director, Space Technology Development Office, Universities Space Research Association. “First, the research he is doing is top notch, his enthusiasm for his work is contagious. He cares greatly for the students he teaches and undoubtedly they could not help but share that enthusiasm. Another characteristic of Dr. Dhere that makes him an especially effective researcher is his ability to leverage resources from several sources and focus those resources on his research objective.” Dhere’s research has increased FSECs and UCFs visibility throughout the world. His research on solar cells has made FSEC the leading center in the United States and one of the three major labs in the world developing CIGS2 thin-film solar cells for terrestrial and space applications. With his help, FSEC fabricated the first CIGS2 thin-film solar cell on metallic foil. His work on photovoltaic (PV) module durability has made FSEC the only lab in the world that has conducted a systematic study on the role of impurities in delamination of PV modules. One of his most recent accolades came from his peers who named him FSEC Researcher of the Year for 2001. Dhere also received a 2001 Research Partnership Award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) He was recognized for organizing the National Thin Film Partnership Program meetings at FSEC in 1998 and 2002. “The Thin Film Photovoltaic Partnership Program helps move photovoltaic science into commercial production, thereby allowing the nation to benefit from the increased use of clean, reliable, domestic energy,” said Robert K. Dixon, deputy assistant secretary, Office of Power Technologies, U.S. DOE. Neelkanth has participated in the program since its inception in 1994. Engineers and scientists involved in the National Thin Film Partnership Program collaborated in FSEC’s PV Materials Lab where Dhere conducts his research. The University of Central Florida has consistently displayed confidence in Dhere by awarding the UCF Presidential Initiative to Fund Major Equipment to the PV Materials Lab for the past three years. These funds allowed Dhere and his students to construct and install a large-area, dual-chamber magnetron-sputtering unit in the lab. Eleven UCF graduate students have successfully defended their master theses based on research conducted under Dhere’s guidance. Dhere’s reputation for creating a top-notch lab with minimal expense also garnered support from Siemens Solar (now Shell Solar). The company recently provided an in-kind grant of its selenization-sulfurization setup to FSEC and UCF, greatly improving the lab’s solar cell production capabilities.