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PA - C3 - PHY661A : Thin-Film Photovoltaics (PV II)

Domaine > Physique.


Eligibility/Pre- requisites 

Physics of Solar Cell Devices (or equivalent course in basics of semiconductors and P/N junctions on crystalline silicon) 

Learning outcomes 

After the course the student should be able to:

  • Provide a critical view on thin film technologies and their position with respect to the leading crystalline silicon

  • Describe the operating principles of various types of solar cells structures: P-N junction, P-I-N, Heterojunction solar cells

  • Possess a detailed knowledge of thin film deposition processes and characterization techniques.

  • Determine the efficiency of solar cells based on their opto-electrical modeling

  • Understand the various steps involved in the value chain from materials to modules 

Course main content 

The course will focus on the two main families of materials at the basis of the second generation of solar cells, namely silicon thin films (amorphous, microcrystalline, thin film crystalline, and alloys with O, C and Ge) and chalcogenides (CdTe and CIGS). It will provide the basis for a deeper understanding of the materials used to build up the solar cells, their structural and electrical characterization, as well as provide the basis to foresee the future of thin film PV in a very competitive arena. Professors will present the solar cell technologies and give the elements of material science to understand both fundamental and technological aspects of Thin-Film Photovoltaics.

The course consists of 9 units of four hours divided as follows:

  • Lecture 1: Introduction to the physics of solar cells: basics of photovoltaic conversion, thermodynamics of light to electricity conversion, fundamental key properties of photovoltaic materials and basic device structures, limits of photovoltaic conversion

  • Lectures 2-3: Solar cells based on II-VI compounds and chalcogenides (CdTe and Copper indium gallium diselenide) : basics of polycrystalline compound semiconductors, devices, fabrication processes and manufacturing

  • Lectures 4-5: Silicon thin film technology: plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition as a versatile tool to deposit silicon thin films and synthesize nanomaterials which are combined in various kinds of solar cell structures (homojunctions, heterojunctions, radial junction solar cells,...) in order to achieve high efficiency at low cost

  • Lecture 6: High efficiency concepts for solar cells: III-V and multijunctions materials and devices, up and down conversion, nanophotonics. The lecture will also include an introduction to modeling of solar cells

  • Lecture 7: Optical properties of solar cells: Students will learn from the basic concepts for the reduction of the spectral reflectance to more advanced nanostructures. In particular, the focus will be on periodic structures such as diffraction gratings or photonic crystals, the exploitation of one dimensional nanowires or metallic nanoantennas, progressive techniques based on plasmonic or photonic effects ... 

  • Lecture 8: Electronic characterization of thin films, based on examples from silicon thin films. 1) Measurements in planar configuration including dark conductivity vs temperature, steady-state photoconductivity, modulated photocurrent, constant photocurrent method and steady-state photocarrier grating. 2) Measurements in diode configuration including admittance spectroscopy, quasi steady-state measurements as a function of bias, frequency and temperature, quasistatic capacitance and transient capacitance (ICTS and DLTS, photocapacitance). The principle of each technique and the use to extract material or interface parameters will be described

  • Lecture 9: Photovoltaic modules and systems: making modules out of cells; strategies for getting the maximum power out of the module thanks to power electronics; PV in isolated areas and related storage issues; grid connected systems 

Examination and requirements for final grade 

Students are evaluated based on a final written exam plus homework based on critical reading and presentation of research articles. Each student gets an article to review and present to the class. 

Coordinator Instructors 

Pere ROCA i CABARROCAS, Ecole polytechnique

Daniel Suchet, Jean Paul KLEIDER, Stéphane Collin, Olivier BETHOUX, Nicolas Barreau, Marie Gueunier-Farret,  Arouna Darga

Langue du cours : Anglais

Credits ECTS : 4

Format des notes

Numérique sur 20

Littérale/grade réduit

Pour les étudiants du diplôme Energy Environment : Science Technology & Management

Le rattrapage est autorisé (Note de rattrapage conservée)
    L'UE est acquise si note finale transposée >= C
    • Crédits ECTS acquis : 4 ECTS

    La note obtenue rentre dans le calcul de votre GPA.

    Pour les étudiants du diplôme Renewable Energy, Science and Technology

    Le rattrapage est autorisé (Note de rattrapage conservée)
      L'UE est acquise si note finale transposée >= C
      • Crédits ECTS acquis : 4 ECTS

      Pour les étudiants du diplôme Echanges PEI

      Le rattrapage est autorisé (Note de rattrapage conservée)
        Veuillez patienter