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Solar Cells and Photovoltaics

Solar Cells and Photovoltaics (UE S3-9)

The objective of this course is to familiarize the students with the physical principles of quantum conversion and of the design of solar cells, from the material to the component, taking into account economic and environmental constraints. These basics will then permit to discuss new concepts and nanotechnological applications for third generation solar cells.

Outline of the course

  • The solar spectrum and the principles of solar cells

  • The ideal photovoltaic converter and its theoretical limits

  • The choice of materials and structures for solar energy conversion

  • Design and characterization of solar cells

  • The fabrication process on a large scale, economic and environmental concerns

  • Thin film and low cost solar cells: second generation solar cells (organic and inorganic materials)

  • New concepts for third generation solar cells – using nanotechnology to improve solar cell efficiency:
    • tandem cells
    • hot carrier cells
    • multiple electron-hole pairs per photon
    • impurity photovoltaics and multiband cells

  • Practical session: the main characterization tools in photovoltaics


  • written exam

course volume

  • lectures/tutorials:  20 hours
  • practicals: 4 hours
  • ECTS: 2