David E. Carlson

David E. Carlson
Associated organizations
RCA (Radio Corporation of America), Solarex Corporation
Fields of study
Photovoltaic devices
IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award


David E. Carlson earned his B.S. (1963) and PhD (1968) degrees in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Rutgers University, respectively. Upon receiving his doctoral degree, he began his career at the U.S. Army Nuclear Effects Laboratory in Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland. Carlson then served as a U.S. Army Captain in Pleiku, Vietnam from 1969-1970. In 1970, Carlson joined RCA Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey, where he would spend the next 13 years.

He was a member of the Technical Staff at RCA, where he concentrated on ion motion in glasses, glow-discharge deposition of thin films, and thin-film photovoltaic devices. In 1974, Carlson invented the amorphous silicon solar cell and 3 years later, became the Group Head of Photovoltaic Device Research. As the Group Head, Carlson led a team of scientists and technicians who contributed to the development of amorphous silicon solar cell technology.

Carlson joined the Thin Film Division of the Solarex Corporation where he served as the Director of Research and Deputy General Manager. He was promoted to the position of General Manager in 1987, and one year later promoted again, to the position of Vice President. Solarex merged into BP Solar in 1999, and Carlson became the Chief Scientist of the company.

He received the 1984 IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award, along with Christopher R. Wronski, "For crucial contributions to the use of amorphous silicon in low-cost, high-performance photovoltaic solar cells." He has also received awards and recognition from the American Ceramic Society, the Franklin Institute, and the International Solar Energy Society, among others. Carlson has published over 150 papers and holds nearly 30 patents.

Carlson ended his career with BP Solar in 2011, and is now a consultant to numerous organizations within the field of photovoltaics.