30 Credits AUTUMN

Aims/Description: This course introduces photovoltaic technology and its role in future energy systems. It starts with a summary of key ideas in semiconductor physics along with an introduction to the broader context of the role of photovoltaics within future energy systems. It then covers underlying concepts that are required to understand the operation of a solar cell. In the first half of the course, we outline a basic description of a solar cell in terms of an equivalent circuit model and then use this to understand the origin of key device metrics. We then describe different techniques to characterise the efficiency of solar cells and discuss the fundamental processes that limit to solar-cell efficiency, including recombination. The course also includes a review of some of the underlying concepts in semiconductor physics that are used to describe the operation of solar-cell devices. In the second half of the course, we move on to a discussion of the main technologies used in modern solar-cells and models that describe how they perform in the real world. This includes a description of emerging trends in the development of new semiconductors and of new device architectures.

Staff Contact: LIDZEY DAVID G
Teaching Methods: Lectures, Seminars, Independent Study, Presentation (30 minutes)
Assessment: Formal Exam, Course work, Presentation

Information on the department responsible for this unit (Physics and Astronomy):

Departmental Home Page
Teaching timetable


The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

URLs used in these pages are subject to year-on-year change. For this reason we recommend that you do not bookmark these pages or set them as favourites.

Teaching methods and assessment displayed on this page are indicative for 2021-22. Students will be informed by the academic department of any changes made necessary by the ongoing pandemic.

Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK