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EEC248 – Photovoltaics and Solar Cells

3 units – Winter Quarter; alternate years

Prerequisite: EEC 140B or equivalent, or permission of instructor

Grading: Letter; homework (30%), term paper and presentation (30%), midterm exam (20%), final exam (20%).

Catalog Description:

Physics and application of first, second, and third-generation photovoltaics and solar cells, including design, fabrication technology, and grid incorporation. Mono and microcrystalline silicon devices; thin-film technologies, heterojunction and organic-semiconductor technologies. Collectors, electrical inverters and infrastructure issues. Economics, policial and commercial challenges, and environmental and aesthetic concerns.

Expanded Course Description:

  1. Basic p-n junction physics of photovoltaics
    1. Device operation and performance metrics
    2. Properties of solar radiation
    3. Design of practical Solar Cells
    4. Efficiency limits in energy conversion
  2. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-Generation Solar Cells and “The Grid”
  3. Silicon Monocrystalline PV devices
    1. Fabrication methods for devices
    2. Interconnect methods
    3. Solar modules, design and fabrication
    4. Loss mechanisms and mitigation strategies
  4. Microcrystalline Si, and effects of defects on PV
  5. Thin-Film Solar Cells
    1. alpha-Si on glass
    2. CdTe thin films
    3. CIGS devices
  6. Heterojunction PV devices
  7. Multi-layer, wavelength-selective strategies
  8. Non-solar PV usages and methods
  9. Organic semiconductors
  10. Dye-sensitized solar devices
  11. Light Management
    1. Anti-reflection schemes
    2. Concentrators and collectors
    3. Confinement and photon recycling
    4. Rotation and optics
  12. Economics of Solar-Cell acceptance
    1. Payback and grid-parity
    2. Aesthetics and behavor
    3. Incentives
    4. Politics
    5. Regulations
    6. Utilities and business issues
  13. Grid-connected photovoltaic systems
    1. Inverters, efficiency, and phase issues
    2. Energy demand and system load constraints
    3. Environment and resource is
  14. Environment and resource issues
  15. Electrical infrastructure and efficiency


  1. J. Nelson, “The Physics of Solar Cells”, Imperial College Press, 2004.
  2. Notes provided by the Instructor

Instructors: Hunt, Moule (MS&E)