2019 Introduction to Photovoltaics

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Academic unit or major
Graduate major in Energy Science and Engineering
Miyajima Shinsuke 
Course component(s)
Day/Period(Room No.)
Mon5-6(W242)  Thr5-6(W242)  
Course number
Academic year
Offered quarter
Syllabus updated
Lecture notes updated
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Course description and aims

Photovoltaic (PV) power generation is known as an important renewable energy. Photovoltaic power generation is based on solar cells. Topics covered in this course will include the following: basics of photovoltaics effect, semiconductor physics, solar cells, advanced design of solar cells, and PV systems.

This course will provide a comprehensive overview of photovoltaics power generation. Next, basic semiconductor physics which are required to understand the operation of solar cells will be introduced. The course will demonstrate how solar cells generate electricity, structures of solar cells and techniques to improve the conversion efficiency. The course will be concluded by discussing PV systems.

Student learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

1. Understand photovoltaic effect
2. Explain the operation of solar cells and conversion efficiency
3. Illustrate structure of high efficiency solar cells
4. Show how solar cells are manufactured
5. Analyze solar cells by using device simulator
6. Understand structures of PV systems


Photovoltaics, Solar cells, Semiconductor, pn junction, Heterojunction, Thin films

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

At the beginning of each class, solutions to exercise problems that were assigned during the previous class are reviewed. The instructor will take questions during this time. Towards the end of class, students are given exercise problems related to the lecture given that day to solve. To prepare for class, students should read the course schedule section and check what topics will be covered. Required learning should be completed outside of the classroom for preparation and review purposes.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Basics of photovoltaic power generation and sunlight Understand the basic structure of photovoltaic power generation system and solar spectrum.
Class 2 Equivalent circuit of solar cell and basics of photovlotaic effect Understand equivalent circuit of solar cell and basics of photovlotaic effect.
Class 3 Review of semiconductor properties Understand basic properties of semiconductor materials
Class 4 pn junction Explain the principle of pn junction.
Class 5 Theoretical efficiency of solar cells Understand the efficiency limit of solar cells.
Class 6 Basic characterization techniques of solar cells Understand the basic characterization techniques of solar cells.
Class 7 Standard silicon solar cell technology Explain the structure of conventional silicon solar cells.
Class 8 Summary of the first half of the lecture and Q&A. Lab. visit to see solar cell fabrication and characterization system (voluntarily). Summarize the first half of the lecture and discussions.
Class 9 Manufacturing technology of standard silicon solar cells Explain the manufacturing technology of silicon solar cells -impurity diffusion, plasma-CVD, screen printing-
Class 10 Improved silicon solar cell technology-Heterojunction technology Explain the silicon heterojunction technology - hydrogenated amorphous silicon -
Class 11 Improved silicon solar cell technology-PERC and back contact Explain advanced solar cell technology
Class 12 Thin film solar cells - Inorganic compound semiconductor Review the compound semiconductor thin film solar cells.
Class 13 Thin film solar cells - Perovskite related materials Review the organic-inorganic perovskite materials and their solar cell application.
Class 14 Advanced characterization techniques and device simulation Explain the advanced characterization techniques for solar cells and device simulations.
Class 15 Basics of PV modules and PV systems Explain the structures of PV modules and the components of PV systems.


There is no textbook for the lectures. Reading materials will be distributed on the web.

Reference books, course materials, etc.

M. Green, "Solar Cells, Operating Principles, Technology and System Applications" Prentice-Hall Inc.

Assessment criteria and methods

Evaluation will be based on the term end examination (50%), mid-term report (30%) and the exercises which is assigned during the classes (20%). Student's knowledge of solar cells and photovoltaic systems will be assessed.

Related courses

  • EEE.D211 : Semiconductor Physics
  • ENR.H410 : Topics in Properties of Semiconductors

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

Students are expected to have basic knowledge of semiconductor materials, quantum mechanics (or quantum chemistry).

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