Physics of silicon solar cells

École Polytechnique

The "Physics of silicon solar cells" course delves into the intricate physics behind the functioning of crystalline semiconductor solar cells, with a specific emphasis on silicon technology, which dominates the market. Through a comprehensive exploration of semiconductor physics, electron transport phenomena, and solar cell operation, participants gain profound insights into the properties and limitations of solar cells. The course also covers the optical properties of cells, crystalline silicon technology, and the preparation of heterojunctions combining crystalline and amorphous materials.

Each module is meticulously designed to provide a deep understanding of various aspects such as band structure, carrier densities, p-n junctions, asymmetrical devices, solar cell optics, and crystalline silicon solar cells. Participants are equipped with knowledge about the solar spectrum, conversion efficiency limitations, and the use of microelectronic processes in solar cell technology. The course also touches on the applications of III-V semiconductors in photovoltaic solar cells.

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Physics of silicon solar cells
Course Modules

The course modules cover a wide range of topics including semiconductor physics, transport phenomena, asymmetrical devices, solar cell operation, crystalline semiconductor solar cells, and silicon heterojunctions. Participants will gain a comprehensive understanding of the physics and technology behind solar cells.


The "Introduction to Semiconductor Physics" module provides a foundational understanding of the band structure, optical absorption, semiconductor doping, and carrier densities at thermal equilibrium. Participants delve into semiconductor physics, gaining crucial insights into the properties of semiconductors and their role in solar cell technology.


The "Transport Phenomena: The p-n Junction" module delves into carrier injection by light, recombination, and the equilibrium and non-equilibrium states of the p-n junction. Participants explore the implications of quasi-equilibrium and gain knowledge about impurities in semiconductors and p-n junctions.


The "Asymmetrical Devices" module provides an in-depth understanding of the metal-semiconductor contact at equilibrium, non-equilibrium metal-semiconductor contact, ohmic contacts, and semiconductor surface heterojunctions. Participants gain insights into the asymmetrical junctions and their role in solar cell technology.


The "Solar Cell Operation" module covers solar radiation, solar spectrum, solar cell fundamentals, multi-junctions, conversion efficiency limitations, and solar cell optics. Participants gain a comprehensive understanding of the solar spectrum, conversion efficiency, and the optics of solar cells.


The "Crystalline Semiconductor Solar Cells" module explores crystalline silicon metallurgy, crystal growth and wafering, crystalline silicon solar cells, cells based on III-V compounds, and the use of microelectronic processes. Participants gain insights into the operational aspects and technology behind crystalline semiconductor solar cells.


The "Silicon Heterojunctions" module delves into silicon heterojunctions (HIT) and provides participants with an in-depth understanding of heterojunctions and their role in enhancing the efficiency of silicon solar cells. Participants gain insights into the technology and operational aspects of silicon heterojunctions.

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