The SUNLAB, housed at the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Research in Photonics, was founded in August of 2007, followed closely by Karin Hinzer receiving a Canada Research Chair in Photonic Nanostructures and Integrated Devices in the following month. The SUNLAB laboratory, first located in rooms 3001 and 3003 of the SITE building on the main downtown campus of the University of Ottawa, was officially opened on May 1, 2008. In June 2015, the SUNLAB moved across the street into room 375 of the new Advanced Research Complex, bringing together physicists, engineers, chemists, and materials scientists in an inter-disciplinary collaborative environment.

The SUNLAB, Canada’s premier solar cell characterization research facility which focuses on high performance devices, specializes in 4 key areas related to solar energy, optoelectronics, and photonics:


  1. Photovoltaic Devices:
  • Ultra-high efficiencies: multi-junction solar cells
  • Novel concepts: materials, nanostructures, wavelength conversion
  • Photonic power: power-over-fiber, power opto-couplers
  1. Photovoltaic Systems:
  • Solar concentrator systems: optical design and analysis
  • Outdoor testing: performance monitoring under real-world conditions
  • Annual energy yield modeling: concentrator and bifacial photovoltaic systems
  1. Solar Resource:
  • Modeling comparisons of satellite to ground measurements
  • Modeling irradiance from limited information (ex. GHI → DNI)
  • Modeling spectra from irradiance measurements
  1. Smart Autonomous Grid Edge:
  • Smart photovoltaic nanogrids with intelligent control systems
  • Battery integration and load management
  • Smart sensors for the Internet of Things


Experimentally, this includes six solar simulators ranging from a 1-sun highly-collimated 30×30 cm2 continuous source (Newport Oriel Sol3A-CPV), to 1000-sun concentrator continuous source (Spectrolab XT-30), to 5000-sun extreme-intensity flashed source (Alpha Omega Gen3). Each solar simulator is equipped for temperature-stabilized current-voltage measurements. External and internal quantum efficiency can be measured alongside specular and diffuse reflectivies over a broad wavelength range of 300-1800 nm for multi-junction solar cells with simultaneous voltage and light biasing.  Device and materials are further studied via electroluminescence, photoluminescence, and atomic force microscopy electrical modes. Visit our Lab Facilities page for more information on our equipment and experimental capabilities.

In addition to the expertise in the area of experimental characterization, the research group complements these activities with a dynamic numerical modeling program. Complex multi-junction solar cell and tunnel junction simulations are performed using Synopsys Sentaurus, a world-leading commercial semiconductor device simulator, coupling electrical, optical, and thermal calculations. Thermal simulations of solar cell systems under concentration are performed using COMSOL Multi-Physics finite element method software. Design and investigation of innovative concentrator systems are modeled using Zemax optical design software. These capabilities are complemented with in-house software developments modeling theoretical optimal solar cell designs, realistic cell performance under non-uniform illumination, system annual energy yields, solar spectra, and others. Descriptions of some of the numerical projects we are working on can be found in under the Research section of the top menu of this website.

The outdoor instrumental test site allows the characterization of systems in a northern environment and gather unprecedented information on the solar spectrum in the Ottawa region. Visit SUNLAB Solar Test Site for information regarding the test site located on the Sports Complex of the downtown campus.