Erin E. Looney

Erin E. Looney

PhD Candidate, Photovoltaics Research Laboratory

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Erin Looney is a PhD candidate in the Photovoltaics Research Laboratory within the Mechanical Engineering Department at MIT.


  • Renewable Energy
  • Product Design and Development
  • Machine Learning
  • Heat & Mass Transfer


  • PhD in Mechanical Engineering, 2020

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • MS in Mechanical Engineering, 2017

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • BS in Mechanical Engineering, 2015

    University of Alabama in Huntsville

  • BA in History, 2015

    University of Alabama in Huntsville



PhD Candidate

Photovoltaics Research Laboratory

Jul 2017 – Present Cambridge, Massachusetts

Thesis: Accelerated Cleantech Hardware Product Development Responsibilities include:

  • Utilized K-means clustering on millions of data points, found representative set of conditions to test solar module, increased energy yield predictive ability by over 3.5%
  • Mapped workflows of product development process, adopted complexity metrics, developed operationaland technological strategies for accelerating system development
  • Interviewed 55 CEO’s or CTO’s in early stage hardware companies
  • Collaborated with sociologists using qualitative and quantitative research methodology to uncover bot-tle necks in startup processes

Photovoltaics Intern

Verband Der Elektrotechnik Renewables

Jun 2017 – Sep 2017 Alzenau, Germany

Responsibilities include:

  • Advised company and customers on solar cell material specifics
  • Developed guide for successful technologists and financier interactions
  • Represented the company for customer site visits & industry conference

Masters Student

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Aug 2015 – Jun 2017 Cambridge, Massachusetts

Thesis:Oxygen Defect Engineering for Silicon Solar Cell Applications: Process Design and Modeling

  • Demonstrated a feasible manufacturing solution for efficiency and yield losses due to oxygen
  • Modelled solar cell devices demonstrating higher efficiencies at lower material cost for device stackswith thinner cells

Undergraduate Research Assistant

University of Alabama in Huntsville

Sep 2014 – May 2015 Huntsville, Alabama

Thesis: Enzymatic Fuel Cells: Review of Current Research and Preliminary Characterization Using Neutron Radiography

  • Ex-Situ and In-Situ neutron imaging of enzymatic electrochemical fuel cells
  • Design and development of a therapeutic arm holder for rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy

Thermal/Cryogenics Internship

Ball Aerospace Corporation

Jun 2014 – Sep 2014 Boulder, Colorado
  • Modeled thermal properties of instrument module radiator for James Webb Space Telescope
  • Modeling and analysis of variable conductance heat pipe for the Tropospheric Emissions Monitoring ofPollution Satellite
  • CAD modeling of Geo-synchronous Earth Monitoring Satellite

Technology Co-op

General Electric

Aug 2013 – Dec 2013 Decatur, Alabama
  • Managed qualification of door handle pack, coordinating international imports
  • Supported copper tube machine relocation on the plant floor
  • Facilitated insourcing of injection molded parts


Tabula Rasa for n‐Cz silicon‐based photovoltaics

High‐temperature annealing, known as Tabula Rasa (TR), proves to be an effective method for dissolving oxygen precipitate nuclei in …

Oxygen-related defect characterization using correlative microscopy

Swirl defects caused by oxide-related defects, namely oxide precipitates, have a detrimental effect on solar cell performance as these …



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