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The Physics of Solar Cells

          A graduate course which studied the theoretical foundations and practical design/simulation of solar cells. In addition to standard theoretical coursework, the course also featured hands-on design in the form of CrossLight's APSYS software. Select course topics can be found below:


















The course culminated in the form of a project in which students were to develop a novel solar cell using good theory-backed design considerations, and then implement it using APSYS. More information can be found below


  • Wave Properties/Diffraction of Light

  • Quantum Essentials/Quasistatic Approximation

  • Wave-Boundary Behavior

  • Band Theory

  • Fermi Statistics

  • Charge Carrier Density of States

  • Intrinsic Carrier Generation

  • Doped Carrier Concentration

  • Carrier Transport (Drift/Diffusion)

  • Minority Carrier Generation/Recombination

  • Continuity Equations

  • PN Junctions & Diode Equations

  • Real vs. Ideal Diodes

  • Light Absorption in PN Junctions

  • Metal Semiconductor Diodes

  • Semiconductor Heterojunctions & Band Diagrams

  • Tunnel Junctions

  • Next Generation Solar Power 

Solar Cell Optimization

Minimizing Reflection

Increasing Minority Carrier Capture

Optimizing Bandgap

Increasing Fill-Factor

Reducing Recombination

AR coatings, texturing, rear-reflectors, TIR light-trapping, etc.

Intrinsic layers, high mobility materials, trap saturation, etc.

Thermalization/absorption balance

Ohmic contacts, increase emitter doping, etc.

Surface passivation, back surface fields, etc.

Course Project

Course Project

My course project was on the application of photovoltaics to subaquatic power capture for military submarines.

The high attenuation of solar irradiance as a function of depth in water is the main obstacle in the development of such photovoltaics. The attenuation necessitates the need for high bandgap materials, and makes contact selection quite difficult.

My paper explores how the unique acoustics of the ocean near the equator make such a project plausible. I go through the design of a solar cell engineered for this purpose; and simulate its performance using CrossLight's APSYS, as well as data generously provided by Jason A. Röhr et al. from their paper Efficiency Limits of Underwater Solar Cells.

The full paper can be found below

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