Group News

June 15, 2017: Amir Asgharzadeh  and K A S M Ehteshamul Haque win the University of Iowa Graduate Student Senate (GSS) travel fund award to attend and present their research work at the 44th IEEE Photovoltaics Specialists Conferenec (PVSC)! Congratulations Amir and Ehteshamul!

May 15, 2017: Abby Venable wins the Department of Defense scholarship under the Science, Mathematics, And Research for Transformation (SMART) Defense Education Program! Congratulations Abby! This news is featured on the University of Iowa College of Engineering website:

May 10, 2017: Amir Asgharzadeh presents an excellent talk on bifacial PV system performance analysis utilizing ray tracing at the 8th PVPMC workshop!


May 7, 2017:  Professor Toor receives the University of Iowa International Programs and the Stanley-UI Foundation Support Organization's international travel award to attend and present an invited talk at the 2017 Photonics North conference!

April 27, 2017: Amir Asgharzadeh rocks it on the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination and passes it with flying colors! Congratulations Amir!

April 24, 2017: David Wu wins the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies grant to spend summer 2017 in Hong Kong! Congratulations David!

April 20, 2017: Our manuscript: "Analytical model for simulating thin-film/wafer-based tandem junction solar cells, Lauren Davidson, K A S M Ehteshamul Haque, and Fatima Toor", is accepted by Solar Energy journal. Congratulations Lauren and Ehteshamul!

April 19, 2017: K A S M Ehteshamul Haque is selected to receive funding by the conference organizers to attend the 44th IEEE PVSC conference this year in Washington, DC, as a Graduate Student Assistant (GSA). Congratulations Ehteshamul!

April 18, 2017: Professor Toor will be presenting the talk titled: "Performance enhancement of solar cells utilizing nanoscale structures and films", at the 2017 OSTC Annual Symposium.

April 18, 2017: Both abstracts submitted to the 2017 EU PVSEC to be held in Amsterdam from September 25-29, 2017, get accepted

  • Joshua S. Stein, Daniel Riley, Matthew Lave, Chris Deline, Fatima Toor, Clifford Hansen, "Outdoor Field Performance from Bifacial Photovoltaic Modules and Systems", is accepted for an oral presentation on Wednesday, September 27, 2017.
  • Clifford Hansen, Daniel Riley, Matthew Lave, Chris Deline, Amir Asgharzadeh, Fatima Toor, Joshua Stein, "A Detailed Performance Model for Bifacial PV Modules", is accepted for a poster presentation on Tuesday, September 26, 2017.

April 14, 2017: Lauren Davidson passed her Masters of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering thesis defense! During her tenure at UIowa as a BS/MS student, she received several accolades for exceptional academic performance as well as two best poster awards. She presented her research at the 2016 SPIE Photonics West conference, and is a lead author on one in review journal publication and a co-author on two published journal publications. This summer she will start as a Power Electronics Control Software Engineer at John Deere Electronics Solutions, Fargo, ND. Congratulations Lauren!

April 7, 2017: We are proud of Josh Larson for getting accepted to the 2017 SULI program to conduct research at the DIII-D facility and attend a workshop at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab this summer. Congratulations Josh!

April 6, 2017: The group presented six high quality research posters at the 2017 University of Iowa College of Engineering Research Open House! Poster presenters and their poster titles are as follows:

  1. Amir Asgharzadeh Shishavan, The Effect of PV System Size and Installation Parameters on the Performance of Bifacial Arrays
  2. Lauren Davidson, Improved Efficiency of Silicon Solar Cells utilizing Sputtered Silicon Nitride Films (Best graduate student poster winner!)
  3. Wenqi Duan,  A Novel Approach to the Development of a Highly Sensitive Silicon Nanowire Biosensor
  4. K A S M Ehteshamul Haque, Copper Catalyzed Etched Nanoporous Black Silicon for Efficient Solar Cells
  5. Xin Jin, Spectrally-selective solar window coatings to improve energy efficiency
  6. Joseph Sink,  E-beam lithography: Nanohole patterning and InAs nanowire-based device fabrication

April 2, 2017: Professor Toor's research is featured on the 2017 Dare to Discover campaign organized by the OVPR's office to highlight the inspiring work that profoundly benefits the public good by University of Iowa faculty and alumni.

March 27, 2017: Both submitted papers from the Toor group are accepted at the 44th IEEE PVSC conference to be held from June 25th to 30th in Washington, DC.

  • Amir Asgharzadeh's paper titled: "Analysis of the Impact of Installation Parameters and System Size on Bifacial Gain and Energy Yield of PV Systems"  is accepted for an oral presentation for the session titled: "Simulation and Optimization of Systems" to be held on Friday, June 30th, 2017 at 8:30 am.
  • K A S M Ehteshamul Haque's paper titled: "Extremely Low Reflectivity Nanoporous Black Silicon by Copper Catalyzed Etching for Efficient Solar Cells" is accepted for a poster presentation for the session titled: "Modeling, Light Management and Passivation" to be held on Monday, June 26th, 2017 at 3:30 pm.

March 24, 2017: Professors LeFevre and Toor are awarded the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC) grant to develop a biosensor that enables monitoring of water quality in Iowa streams. 

March 24, 2017: Professor Toor will be giving an invited talk at the 2017 Photonics North conference on our bifacial PV project in collaboration with Sandia and NREL. The conference will be held from June 6th to 8th, 2017 in Ottawa, Canada.

March 24, 2017: Professor Toor will be attending the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery annual conference in San Diego, CA from April 7th to 9th, 2017.

March 17, 2017: Wenqi Duan is accorded an Honorable Mention for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, which is considered a significant national academic achievement. Congratulations Wenqi!

March 14, 2017: Amir Asgharzadeh's research on bifacial PV modeling is accepted for an oral presentation at the 8th PVPMC workshop to be held on May 9th-10th, 2017 at Tamaya Resort, Santa Anna Pueblo, New Mexico, USA. 

January 25, 2017: Joe Sink rocks it on the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination and passes it with flying colors! Congratulations Joe!

January 23, 2017: Professor Toor, along with Dr.s Shamsul Arafin of UCSB and Kaikai Xu of UESTC, is a co-editor for OSA's Applied Optics feature on Near- to mid-IR (1-13 µm) III-V Semiconductor Lasers. More information on the feature is available here.

January 18, 2017: Professor Toor is awarded seed funding from the Sarcoma Multidisciplinary Oncology Group to develop a laser-based differential ablation system.

October 26, 2016:  CBJ's 40 under Forty article gets published online and features Professor Toor's profile.  Thank you to the University of Iowa colleagues for this recognition! 

October 20, 2016: Professor Toor attends the CBJ's 40 under Forty award ceremony joined by family and colleagues from the University of Iowa: Vice President of Research Daniel Reed, Assistant Vice President of Research Ann Ricketts, Dean of College of Engineering Alec Scranton, Department Chair of ECE Department ErWei Bai, Associate Director of Licensing Jane Garrity, and Professor of Physics John Prineas.

October 19, 2016: Professor Toor is the finalist in the Rising Star category for the prestigious 2016 Iowa Women of Innovation Awards!  She was nominated by the Office of the Vice President of Research at the University of Iowa.

October 8, 2016: Professor Toor's editorial on the perovskite solar cell fever gets published in the SPIE Professional Magazine!

September 12, 2016: Professor Toor presents on bifacial photovoltaic technology at a workshop on PV performance modeling organized by the National Renewable Energy Lab at the 2016 Solar Power International conference.

September 12, 2016: Professor Toor is selected as one of the Forty Under 40 award honorees for 2016 in Iowa by the University of Iowa! She was nominated by the Office of the Vice President of Research at the University of Iowa. More info at:

August 31st, 2016: Amir, Wenqi, and Logan present their research at the 2016 SPIE Optics and Photonics Confernece, San Diego, CA.

July 12th, 2016: The Toor Lab wins National Science Foundation funding (~$375,000!) to develop next generation III-V photonics. This project is in collaboration with Professors John Prineas and Tom Boggess.

June 8th, 2016: Amir presents his poster at the IEEE PVSC conference on the performance analysis of PV systems installed at the University of Iowa:

June 2nd, 2016: Toor Group wins Iowa Energy Center's Opportunity Grant (~$100K!) for developing tandem solar cells based on silicon. Super exciting!

May 9th, 2016: Professor Toor, along with Arthur Onno of University College London, are guest editors for the Special Section of the Journal of Photonics for Energy (JPE) on Tandem Junction Solar Cells. If you are interested in submitting an invited paper, please contact me via email. Details below:

May 5th, 2016: Professor Toor makes it to the news again and quoted in Boston Globe: Solar silicon company gets $10m to help build new factory

April 25th, 2016: Wenqi Duan,  Logan Nichols, and Leland Nordin  get accepted for oral presentations at the 2016 SPIE Optics + Photonics conference. 

April 21st, 2016: Professor Toor is awarded the Targeted Industries Internship Program Award by the Iowa Economic Development Authority to fund Logan Nichols' research work during summer 2016.

April 11th, 2016: Joshua Larson, one of our star students, wins the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Excellence Award! 

April 11th, 2016: Lauren Davidson wins the 2016 Best Undergraduate Poster Award at the University of Iowa College of Engineering Research Open House. She is also the recipient of the Kertz Senior Merit Award. Congratulations to our super star! :-)

April 11th, 2016: Professor Toor, along with Dr. Frederic Roux of CEA, France and Dr. Mark Spratt of G24 Power Limited, UK, are guest editors for the Special Section of the Journal of Photonics for Energy (JPE) on Solar and Photovoltaic Window Films. If you are interested in submitting an invited paper, please contact me via email. Details below:

April 9th, 2016: Professor Toor featured in a video on female students' recruitment and retention in engineering at the University of Iowa:

April 1st, 2016: Joshua Larson and Matthew Thommana win the 2016 Summer ICRU Fellowship to continue work on developing the multiwavelength and multispecies gas sensor.

March 16th, 2016: Professor Toor, in collaboration with Professors Aliasger Salem, Al Klingelhutz, and James Ankrum, wins the Internal Funding Initiative grant to fund research on studying fat cells.

March 11th, 2016: Amir's paper gets accepted for a poster presentation at the 43rd IEEE PVSC conference. We are co-authors on two other papers via the SuNLaMP project with Sandia and NREL:

  1. Amir Asgharzadeh, Eric Foreseman, and Fatima Toor, "Performance Analysis of Photovoltaic Systems Installed at The University of Iowa Humid Continental Climate Zone: Modeling and Measurements from 2011 to 2014."
  2. Clifford W. Hansen, Chris Deline, Sara MacAlpine, Bill Marion, Amir Asgharzadeh, Fatima Toor, Joshua S. Stein, "Analysis of Irradiance Models for Bifacial PV Modules."
  3. Chris Deline, Sara MacAlpine, Bill Marion, Fatima Toor, Amir Shishavan, and Joshua S. Stein, "Evaluation and Field Assessment of Bifacial Photovoltaic Module Power Rating Methodologies."

March 9th, 2016: Wenqi and Professor Toor get profiled in the "Celebrating Women in Engineering" IowaNow article. 

March 6th, 2016: Professor Toor is appointed as a reviewer for the SPIE Journal of Photonics Energy. Invited to plan a special issue on solar/PV window coatings.

February 25th, 2016: Wenqi Duan and Professor Toor get interviewed for their work on solar cells for cancer detection by the local news channel: 

February 25th, 2016: The Toor group is hosting Dr. Joshua Stephenson Stein of Sandia National Labs. Details below:

Modeling the Performance of Photovoltaic Systems using the Open Source PVLIB Toolbox in Matlab and Python

Dr. Joshua Stephenson Stein

Distinguished Member of Technical Staff

Sandia National Laboratories

Thursday February 25th 2016 3:30 PM to 4:20 PM

Room 2229 SC

PVLIB is a set of open source modeling functions that allow users to simulate most aspects of photovoltaic (PV) system performance. The functions, in both Matlab and Python, provide users the ability to track the energy of the Sun as it interacts with a PV system and is eventually transformed into usable electric energy that is fed to the grid.  This talk will combine an overview of the mathematical and conceptual models used to describe PV system performance as well as demonstrate how these models can easily be run using the PVLIB suite of high level functions.  Come learn how to predict the output of a solar PV system!

 Joshua Stein PhD. is a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque New Mexico, and works in the area of photovoltaic performance and grid integration. He currently is the technical program lead for a  network of five PV Regional Test Centers in diverse climates across the US.  He develops and validates models of solar irradiance, PV system performance, reliability, and PV interactions with the grid.  Joshua is also the principle investigator on a  joint project with the University of Iowa and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that aims to better understand the performance advantages of bifacial photovoltaic technologies.  Joshua leads the PV Performance Modeling Collaborative  ( and is a member of the International Energy Agency PVPS Task 13 Working Group on PV performance and reliability.  He holds a PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Earth Sciences and spent more than a  decade modeling the flow and transport in seafloor hydrothermal systems and underground nuclear waste repositories before transitioning into photovoltaics in 2009.  


February 15th, 2016: Professor Toor, in collaboration with Professors Michael Flatt​e' and Markus Wohlegennant, wins the Internal Funding Initiative grant to fund research on tandem junction solar cells.

February 12th, 2016: Professor Toor is elected to lead the Laser Systems Technical Group within the Optical Society of America. 

February 3rd, 2016: Professor Toor, Wenqi, and Logan get featured for their work on black silicon solar cells and the cells' use in cancer biomarker detection.

IowaNOW coverage: Solar cells show promise for cancer testing

College of Engineering news weblink: Solar Cells Show Promise for Cancer Testing

January 23rd, 2016: Professor Toor, Wenqi, Ehteshamul, Ella, and Jason ran the Photonics Camp with some amazing female role models, Michelle Evans and Chelle Lehman today! The camp received more enrollment than we had planned indicating there is not shortage of smart little girls in Eastern Iowa! We had 100% attendance! Smile-filled snapshots below:

    January 6th, 2016: Research abstracts submitted by Ella and Josh get accepted for oral presentations at the 2016 APS March Meeting! Their talk titles are:

    See you at the meeting in March!

    December 21st, 2015: In a landmark legislation today, lawmakers in the House and Senate passed a spending package that includes multi-year extensions of solar and wind tax credits, plus one-year extensions for a range of other renewable energy technologies. Under the legislation, the 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar will be extended for another three years. It will then ramp down incrementally through 2021, and remain at 10 percent permanently beginning in 2022. This is great news for the U.S. and for the research that the Toor Lab and Advanced Silicon Group are conducting! Cheers! 

    December 19th, 2015: Ella graduates with outstanding performance from the University of Iowa with a BSEE degree and a minor in Mathematics! She gets promoted within the Toor Lab from an Undergraduate Researcher during Fall 2015 to a full-time Research Staff Member starting Janauary 2016 through June 2016. So proud of our Ella! 

    December 15th, 2015: Wenqi, Ella, and Professor Toor run a photonics camp using the Light Blox Education Kits awarded by the IEEE Photonics Society to the Toor Group. The event was held at the Linn County Community Center in Hiawatha, Iowa. Everyone had lots of fun! Plus we were featured on the Project Lead the Way Twitter Feed: and 

    November 19th, 2015: Toor group in UIowa College of Engineering news:

    (1) Mubeen, Ankrum, Toor Receive UI Research Foundation Funding to Help Faculty Turn Inventions into Businesses 

    (2) Peeples, Toor Are Finalists for Technology Association of Iowa Awards

    (3) Engineering Faculty Members Help Drive Informatics Initiative

    November 17th, 2015: Professor Toor, Wenqi, and Ella will be running a photonics camp at the Young Women in STEM event on December 15th at the Linn County Regional Center in Hiawatha. We know how to have fun! 

    November 17th, 2015: Toor Group is hosting an all girls Photonics STEM Camp for 4th and 6th graders! The camp is funded by the IEEE Photonics Society. Details are below.

    November 16th, 2015: Professors Toor and Prineas win the Office of Vice President of Research and Economic Development (OVPRED) and Central Microscopy Research Facility (CMRF) Pilot Grant for TEM imaging of III-V nanowires that we are developing for a range of photonic applications.

    November 10th, 2015: Professor Toor attends the Iowa Women of Innovation event sponsored by the Technology Association of Iowa. The plaque says it all. I value diversity as most people value religion. Now back to work!

    November 6th, 2015: Toor lab prints its first 3D printed prototype:

    We plan to use the 3D printer for developing biomedical and environmental sensors as well as novel optical components.

    October 30th, 2015: Wenqi wins forth place in the Iowa Art in Science competition hosted by the Iowa Microscopy Society and the Central Microscopy Research Facility. The winning image was that of pyramid-textured silicon. Congrats Wenqi!

    October 23rd, 2015: Professor Toor is one of the finalists for the 2015 Iowa Women of Innovation Awards in the "Rising Star" category by the Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) and Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). List of all the impressive finalists is posted here:

    October 15th, 2015: Toor Group hosts Dr. Chris Deline and we do some photo-ops next to IATL building designed by Frank Gehry while at it. May be this will become a tradition for scientists the group hosts! 

    October 12th, 2015: Three of the Toor Group abstracts get accepted for oral presentations at the Photonics West 2016 conference! See you there!

    October 12th, 2015: Professor Toor is nominated for the 2015 Iowa Women of Innovation Awards in the "Rising Star" category by the Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) and Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC).

    October 9th, 2015: Professor Toor receives the Gap Funding from University of Iowa Ventures group in collaboration with Professor Aliasger Salem and Dr. Marcie Black for developing sensors to enable high sensitivity cancer biomarker detection. Gap funding is targeted at very early stage proof of concept to prototyping, through generation of data.

    October 8th, 2015: Dr. Chris Deline of NREL PV Reliabilty and Performance Group will be visiting the University of Iowa and will be hosted by the Toor research group. The details of his talk are as follows:

    Presentation Title:  “Mining PV system data to identify performance trends”

    Dr. Chris Deline

    PV Engineer

    National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, CO

    Thursday October 15th 2015

    Seamans Center 3505 at 3:30 PM – 4:20 PM

    Abstract:  The rapid reduction in photovoltaic (PV) system cost has led to an exponential increase in the number of PV systems installed.  Questions have been raised about whether this rapid cost reduction has also resulted in a corresponding reduction in quality and performance for these PV systems.  We have also seen an increase in the adoption of distributed power electronics (micro inverters, power optimizers) in PV installations.  This provides us an unprecedented level of performance monitoring granularity within the PV system.  This talk will describe recent analysis of 50,000 PV systems in the US 1603 Treasury program, and will also discuss the impact of distributed electronics on the design and performance of residential PV systems.

    Christopher Deline  received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2003, 2005, and 2008, respectively, all in electrical engineering.  His Ph.D. work involved experimental investigation of the magnetic nozzle region of electric propulsion thrusters at NASA MSFC and JSC.  Since 2008 he has been a research engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO in the photovoltaic performance and reliability group.  He has co-authored several reports on the performance impact of microinverters and DC-DC converters in PV systems under mismatched and shaded conditions.  His research includes PV field performance including thin-film PV performance and stabilization, mismatch and partial shading in PV systems and distributed power electronics for PV.  Chris manages the DOE Regional Test Center program at NREL for field assessment of novel PV technologies, and is principal investigator for multiple projects on PV field performance including degradation rate assessment and bifacial module power rating and energy production modeling.

    October 1st, 2015: Professor Toor receives three-year U.S. Department of Energy funding as a sub-recipient to Sandia and NREL’s proposal to SunShot National Laboratory Multiyear Partnership (SuNLaMP) to study and contribute to establishing international standards for the bifacial PV technology.

    August 6th, 2015:  Professor Toor receives funding from IEEE Photonics Society to run a "Introduce a Girl to Photonics" camp during the Fall 2015 semester! Please follow the #iLookLikeAnEngineer #iLookLikeAPhysicist #WomenInPhotonics campaign

    July 28th, 2015: Lauren Davidson and Ananda Guneratne present their research at the 2015 Iowa EPSCoR Annual Meeting.










    July 24th, 2015: Leland Nordin, Lauren Davidson, and Ananda Guneratne along with Professsor Fatima Toor run a Solar Camp for Iowa First Nations College of Engineering visitors. Everyone had lots of fun! 

    June 15th, 2015: Professor Fatima Toor will be attending the 42nd IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference and chairing the session on Module Materials, Manufacturing and Production (Area  9 - Orals) which will be held on Monday, June 15th 2015 from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM. See you there!

    May 1st, 2015: Professor Fatima Toor will be speaking at the University of Iowa 2015 Optical Science & Technology Center (OSTC) Annual Symposium on "High Performance Solar Cells and Coatings using Optical Metamaterials". Click here for more information on the event and registration.

    April 1st, 2015: Jason Ryan, a freshman undergraduate researcher in our group has accepted a six month co-op position at Rockwell Collins starting summer 2015! Congratulations Jason!