Single-Course English 5 ECTS

Advanced design and simulation of solar cells

Overall Course Objectives

How do we design a solar cell that can potentially convert light into electricity at maximum efficiency? And how do we then optimize the solar cell towards actually achieving this goal? In this course, you will learn how to find answers to these questions by guided hands-on work centered on solar cell simulation, and complemented by measurements on real solar cells and materials data mining.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the material properties (e.g., band gaps, doping densities) and device properties (e.g. layer thicknesses, contact configuration) that are relevant in the design and simulation of a solar cell
  • Find appropriate reference values for such properties in the scientific literature or databases
  • Run realistic solar cell simulations in one dimension with the SCAPS program
  • Simulate the effect of changing a given property on solar cell performance (efficiency, short-circuit current, open-circuit voltage, fill factor)
  • Explain reasons for the observed property-performance trends, using mathematical relations based on semiconductor physics and/or auxiliary simulations
  • Derive fundamental limits to the power conversion efficiency of solar cells (e.g., Shockley-Queisser limit) from simulation work
  • Diagnose solar cell performance issues by conducting current-voltage, quantum efficiency, and capacitance measurements on a real solar cell
  • Estimate unknown properties by fitting the measurement results to a device simulation model
  • Apply data mining techniques to select potential solar cell materials from online materials databases
  • Design an optimal solar cell (materials and device structure) given a set of specifications

Course Content

This is a learn-by-doing course, where most of the relevant math and physics will not be presented beforehand, but it will instead be derived from your hands-on work. The general teaching format consists of a three-step loop: 1) Briefing in plenum with introductory concepts and instructions for the hands-on work; 2) Hands-on work in groups (either simulation, data mining, or experiment); 3) Debriefing in plenum with conclusions from the hands-on work.

In the first week, you will learn about the relevant properties of solar cell materials and the architecture of a solar cell. By computer simulation, you will derive the key elements of the physics of solar cells and the role of the various properties in determining the behavior of a solar cell.

In the second week, you will go to the lab and conduct the measurements that are typically used to characterize a real solar cell. You will learn to integrate these measurements with the simulation program to diagnose issues and estimate unknown properties in the solar cell. Then, you will learn to query large computational material databases to search for potentially improved solar cell materials with optimal properties.

In the third week, you will work on a group project, where each group will use their experience from the course to design a solar cell given a set of specifications. Each group will write a final report based on this project.

Recommended prerequisites

10303/10260/34551, or equivalent courses (at least one). Familiarity with semiconductor basics. Basic knowledge of Python. Pre-test available to check your existing knowledge (not graded). Catch-up compendium available.

Teaching Method

Computer simulation (50%), introductory/wrap-up lectures (30%), database mining (10%), laboratory measurements (10%)



A Windows computer or virtual machine is required to run the SCAPS simulation program .(Free old versions of Windows are OK).

See course in the course database.





3 weeks




DTU Lyngby Campus

Course code 10871
Course type Candidate
Semester start Week 23
Semester end Week 26
Days Mon-fri 8:00-17:00

7.500,00 DKK