Kurt L. Barth is the Professor in Photovoltaics at the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST). His research focuses on thin film photovoltaics, module manufacturing and reliability.

Dr Barth has over 20 years of experience with CdTe materials and has directed research programs advancing group II-VI device structure, processing, materials science, characterization and manufacturing. He has guided research programs totalling the equivalent of over £20M. Recent programs include understanding the role of Se, Mg and Cl and group V doping in CdTe-based polycrystalline thin film devices. This research has achieved the world record of device efficiency among all national laboratories or universities for this device.

As founder and Board member of the CdTe solar photovoltaic manufacturer, Abound Solar, he developed the initial business plan, obtained major equity financing (eventually totalling over $300M) and provided leadership for company growth. As VP of Product Development, Kurt drove the product from conceptualization through deployment and achieved IEC and UL certifications in one of the shortest times in the industry. Kurt L. Barth is currently the President and Founder of Direct Solar LLC., which provides expertise in solar construction and techno economic analysis.

From 2012 to 2021 Dr Barth was a director at the US National Science Foundation-supported Next Generation PV Center. He has made significant scientific contributions to the thin film solar research field. By establishing the Advanced Module Laboratory at Colorado State University, he drove the development of new module architectures, encapsulation methods, analysis techniques and manufacturing processes to streamline module production and characterization. He is a frequently invited speaker on thin film PV manufacturing and reliability topics.

Key awards

  • Team Researcher Award, College of Agricultural Sciences, Colorado State University, April 2021 
  • Editorial board member for Energies (ISSN 1996-1073, impact factor 3.0)
  • Invited editorial article by Krasikov, Dmitry. "Selenium lowers bulk recombination." Nature Energy 4 (6) (2019): pp 442-443 commenting on Nature Energy, 4(6), pp. 504-511 which Barth co-authored
  • Invited Panellist, "Decarbonization Solutions", 21st Century Energy Transition Symposium, Driving Innovations, April 2019
  • Outstanding Researcher Award, Walter Scott Jr. College of Engineering, Colorado State University, November 2018.
  • Selected Visiting Scholar, Institute of Advanced Studies, Loughborough University, UK, July 2018.
  • Session Chair, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Photovoltaic Specialists Conf., Washington DC June 2017
  • Panellist and Invited Speaker, 21st Century Energy Transitions Symposium, Fort Collins, CO, Sept. 2016
  •  Distinguished Alumnus Award, Mechanical Engineering, Colorado State University, 2011

Research interests 

  • Thin film solar photovoltaics
  • Bifacial PV
  • Group II-V materials processing
  • Thin film growth
  • Materials characterization
  • Solar module encapsulation development
  • Solar module design and reliability
  • Technoeconomic analysis

Grants and contracts

  • 2011-2015  KTP – Development of capability to process EPDM and silicone rubber compounds for “warm” window edge sealing systems, TSB and Thermoseal Ltd.


Current teaching responsibilities 

22WS69META - Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Engineers
22WSP069META - Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Engineering
22WSP069 - Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Engineering
22WSD503 - Project Engineering - Total Product Design
22WSI010 - DIS Industrial Placement (non credit-bearing)
22WSI020 - DPS Industrial Placement (non credit-bearing)
22WSP502 - MSc Individual Project
22WSP502META - Individual MSc Project
22WSZ201 - Wolfson School Pre-Placement

Administrative responsibilities

Associate Director of the Wolfson Net-Zero research priority


External collaborators

External roles

  • Co-Director, Center for a Solar Powered Future 2050 (SPF2050), CSU Site 2012-2021
  • NSF I/UCRC, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Walters Scott Jr. College of Engineering (formerly known as the Next Generation PV Center)
  • President and Founder, Direct Solar / Direct Engineering 2012–present
  • Visiting Professor of Thin-Film Photovoltaics, 2021-2022
  • Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, Loughborough University, UK
  • Affiliate Faculty Member, Department of Mechanical Engineering, CSU 2007 -2012
  • Founder, Board of Directors, VP Product Development, Abound Solar 2007–2012