2.627 | Fall 2013 | Undergraduate

Fundamentals of Photovoltaics

Calendar & Readings

In the first half of the term, the course operates in a “flipped classroom” mode. For lectures 2 through 12, before each class period, please watch the assigned MIT OpenCourseWare video lecture (per the table below), recorded during the Fall 2011 term. Class meetings on those days are devoted to further discussion and in-class activities. A sampling of some in-class activities is provided below.

Readings Key

[PVCDROM] = Honsberg, C., and S. Bowden. Photovoltaics: Devices, Systems and Applications CD-ROM. [A free online resource.]

[Green]= Green, M. A. Solar Cells: Operating Principles, Technology, and System Applications. Prentice Hall, 1981. ISBN: 9780138222703.

Unit 1: Fundamentals of PV Devices and Systems
1 Class Introduction; Solar Technology Framework   Background Assessment Quiz (PDF) (not for grade)
2 The Solar Resource

In-Class Activities

PVWatts Calculator. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. [PVCDROM] Appendix, “Standard Solar Spectra.”

Watch Fall 2011 Lecture Video in OCW

Lecture 2: The Solar Resource


[PVCDROM] Chapter 2: Properties of Sunlight.

[Green] Chapter 1: Solar Cells and Sunlight.

Problem set 1 out
3 Light Management

Watch Tutorial Video

Tutorial: Texturing

Watch Fall 2011 Lecture Video in OCW

Lecture 3: Light Absorption and Optical Losses


[PVCDROM] Chapter 3: PN Junction.

4 Charge Excitation

Watch Fall 2011 Lecture Video in OCW

Lecture 4: Charge Excitation 


[Green] Chapter 2: Review of Semiconductor Properties. and Chapter 3: Generation, Recombination, and the Basic Equations of Device Physics.

Problem set 1 due

Problem set 2 out

5 Charge Separation I

Watch Tutorial Video

Tutorial: Doping

Tutorial: Photoconductivity

Tutorial: Solar Cell Operation

Watch Fall 2011 Lecture Video in OCW

Lecture 5: Charge Separation, Part I


[PVCDROM] Chapter 3: PN Junction.

6 Charge Separation II Class Projects: Describe existing ideas and provide opportunity to pitch new ideas.

Watch Fall 2011 Lecture Video in OCW

Lecture 6: Charge Separation, Part II

Problem set 2 due

Problem set 3 out

7 Advanced Semiconductor Physics

In-Class Activities

In-class problem set (PDF)

IV Curve Measurement

Watch Fall 2011 Lecture Video in OCW

Lecture 7: Toward a 1D Device Model, Part I: Device Fundamentals


Schroder, D. K. “Solar Cell Contact Resistance–A Review.” IEEE Transactions Electron Devices 31, no. 5 (1984): 637–47.

8 Materials Properties Affecting Performance

Watch Fall 2011 Lecture Video in OCW

Lecture 8: Toward a 1D Device Model, Part II: Material Fundamentals

Form project teams
9 Charge Collection (Contacts & Metallization)

Watch Fall 2011 Lecture Video in OCW

Lecture 9: Charge Extraction

Problem set 3 due

Quiz 1 out

**Unit 2: PV Technologies (Commercial and Emerging)**
10 Commercial Technologies: Silicon I

Watch Fall 2011 Lecture Video in OCW

Lecture 10: Wafer Silicon-Based Solar Cells, Part I

Read (optional)

McEvoy, A., T. Markvart, and Luis Castañer, eds. Solar Cells: Materials, Manufacture and Operation. 2nd ed. Academic Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780123869647.

Luque, A., and S. Hegedus, eds. Chapters in Handbook of Photovoltaic Science and Engineering. 2nd ed. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2011. ISBN: 9780470721698.

Project: organized first meetings with mentors outside of normal class time.
11 Commercial Technologies: Silicon II

Watch Fall 2011 Lecture Video in OCW

Lecture 11: Wafer Silicon-Based Solar Cells, Part II

Quiz 1 due

Problem set 4 out

Quiz 2 out

12 Commercial Technologies: Thin Films I

Watch Fall 2011 Lecture Video in OCW

Lecture 12: Thin Films: Materials Choices and Manufacturing, Part I

13 Commercial Technologies: Thin Films II Tour of the MIT solar installation


MIT Energy Initiative. “Student Project Identifies Improvements for Campus PVs,” MIT News, November 30, 2011.

Homework 4 due

Homework 5 out

14 Theoretical Photoelectric Efficiency Limits    
15 Emerging Technologies   Homework 5 due Project team check-in

16 Field trip to Fraunhofer CSE    
Unit 3: Cross-Cutting Themes
17 Troubleshooting Photoelectric Conversion Efficiency Losses   Quiz 2 due Project team check-in

18 Cost and Manufacturability Guest lecture “Silicon solar cell manufacturing costs” by K. V. Ravi


Powell, D. M. , M. T. Winkler, et al. “Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics: A Cost Analysis Framework for Determining Technology Pathways to Reach Baseload Electricity Costs.” Energy & Environmental Science 5, no. 3 (2012): 5874–83.

———. “Modeling the Cost and Minimum Sustainable Price of Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Manufacturing in the United States.” IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics 3, no. 2 (2013): 662–68.

Goodrich, A. C., D. M. Powell, et al. “Assessing the Drivers of Regional Trends in Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing.” Energy & Environmental Science 6, no. 10 (2013): 2811–21.

19 Modules, Systems, and Reliability   Project team check-in
20 Price, Markets, and Subsidies    
21 Guest lecture by DOE SunShot Program Manager Lidija Sekaric   Project team check-in Manufacturing simulation due

22 PV Innovation    
23 PV in Developing Countries    
24 Buffer lecture – topics TBD    
25 Student Project Presentations   Final project report due
26 Student Project Presentations (cont.)    

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2013
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos
Tutorial Videos
Problem Sets
Lecture Notes
Projects with Examples
Problem Sets with Solutions