Tutorial Course Descriptions

Detailed Syllabus

C-335 Understanding Solar Cells (half day)

In addition to traditional semiconductors, photovoltaics technology now encompasses thin films, organic materials, low dimensional materials, nanotubes and biomaterials. This course provides an introduction to the basic principles of solar cell operation and photovoltaic devices (homojunction, heterojunction, p-n, and p-i-n structures) based on photoconductivity and photoactivation. Photocatalytic materials and selected photovoltaic technologies and systems will also be addressed. Principles of photoconductivity and solar cell operation will be presented using basic solid state physics and graphic examples. Specific examples addressed are semiconductor solar cells, Gratzel (dye sensitized) cells, organic cells and multijunction cells. This course will address current PV cell structures and power systems and the factors that are preventing them from achieving theoretical efficiencies.

Topical Outline:

•  Energy from the sun and heat sources
•  Semiconductor lattice structure
•  Electrical conductivity basics
•  Why semiconductors?
•  Semiconductor band structure
•  Photoconductivity mechanisms
•  Solar cell parameters
•  Materials
•  Bulk semiconductor cells
•  Dye sensitized solar cells
•  Photocatalytic materials
•  Organic solar cells
•  Advanced materials and designs
•  Future directions

Course Details:

Energy from the sun
• Radiant energy/solar spectrum
• Energy from other heat sources
• Photon energy

Structure of semiconductors
• Lattice structure
• Reciprocal lattice
• Fermi surface

Basic theory of electrical conduction
• Conductivity, resistivity
• Mobility
• Electrons and holes
• Carrier lifetime and recombination
• Effective mass

Conversion of light energy into electrical energy
• Interaction of light/photons with materials
• What makes a material a good PV candidate
• Elementary theory
   -  Semiconductor band structure
   -  Conduction mechanisms in semiconductors
   -  Doping
   -  P-n junctions
   -  Homojunctions
   -  Heterojunctions
   -  Photon absorption
   -  Carrier activation by light

Solar cell operational parameters (what makes a solar cell tick)
• Efficiency
• Fill factor
• Output power
• Theoretical maximum
• Limitations to achieving optimum efficiency

Photovoltaic Materials
• Bulk semiconductors
• Low dimensional structures
• Nanotubes
• Organics and biomaterials

Examples of solar cells
• Bulk semiconductor
• Best solar cells to date
• Dye sensitized
• Organic

• Conventional silicon solar cell

Advanced designs with improved efficiency
• Third generation photovoltaics
• Efficiencies possible
• Thermophotovoltiacs
• Silicon nanostructures
• Photoelectrochemical cells
• Polymer and dye-sensitized cells

Future directions
• Fourth generation photovoltiacs
• Multiquantum well structures
• Quantum dots
• Nanowire organic cells
• Thermophotonic conversion
• Transparent photovoltaics

Instructor: Peter Martin, Columbia Basin Thin Film Solutions LLC
Peter Martin

worked at Pacific Northwest Laboratory (PNNL) for over 29 years where he currently holds an Emeritus Laboratory Fellow appointment At PNNL he developed thin film coatings for energy, biomedical, space and defense applications. He is currently President of Columbia Basin Thin Film Solutions LLC and recent Past President of SVC.   He has written over 400 technical publications, three R&D 100 Awards, two Federal Laboratory Consortium awards, and voted Battelle 2005 Inventor of the Year.  He has over thirty US patents, and teaches short courses on Smart Materials and Energy Materials and Applications.

This course is currently available via:
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