Tonio Buonassisi

Brief Bio:

Tonio Buonassisi received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame in 2001, and a Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley under the supervision of Eicke R. Weber in 2006. He was a visiting researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) and the Max-Planck Institute for Microstructure Physics, and a crystal growth research scientist at Evergreen Solar, Inc. He joined the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2007, where he is currently an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering.


Tonio Buonassisi, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, heads an interdisciplinary laboratory focused on photovoltaics (solar energy conversion into electricity). Prof. Buonassisi completed his Ph.D. in Applied Science and Technology at UC Berkeley, with additional research at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems and the Max-Planck-Institute for Microstructure Physics. Buonassisi’s thesis research revealed the chemical natures of metal defects in multicrystalline silicon solar cell materials using synchrotron microprobe techniques, which led to the founding of solar start-up Calisolar, Inc.

After his Ph.D., Buonassisi broadened his research focus from materials to devices. At Evergreen Solar Inc., he applied his defect-engineering techniques to improve performance and yield of ribbon silicon solar cell manufacturing, while a member of the team that brought a new crystal growth platform into production. Since founding his MIT research group in 2007, Prof. Buonassisi invents, develops, and applies defect-engineering techniques over the entire solar cell process, from crystal growth to modules, improving the cost effectiveness of commercial and next-generation solar cells. Prof. Buonassisi excels in bringing science-driven breakthroughs into industry, and co-founded the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems in Cambridge, MA.

Prof. Buonassisi is an author of over 120 journal articles focused on PV, and has delivered over 120 invited talks and plenary/oral presentations on his work throughout the world. His work has been honored with awards including a Deshpande Center Innovation Grant, a U.S. National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2012), a Google Faculty Award (2015), an Everett Moore Baker Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2015), and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, PECASE (2016).

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