Solar Cells Lecture 1: Introduction to Photovoltaics

By Mark Lundstrom

Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

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This introduction to solar cells covers the basics of PN junctions, optical absorption, and IV characteristics. Performance metrics such as efficiency, short-circuit current, fill factor, and open-circuit voltage are discussed. Key technology options and economic considers are briefly introduced.


  1. Introduction
  2. PN junction fundamentals (dark)
  3. Model solar cell: dark IV
  4. Optical absorption / light-generated current
  5. Model solar cell: illuminated
  6. Discussion
  7. Summary


Dionisis Berdebes, Jim Moore, and Xufeng Wang played key roles in putting together this tutorial.

Sponsored by

Electronics from the Bottom Up” is an educational initiative designed to bring a new perspective to the field of nano device engineering. It is co-sponsored by the Intel Foundation and the Network for Computational Nanotechnology.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Mark Lundstrom (2011), "Solar Cells Lecture 1: Introduction to Photovoltaics,"

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Burton Morgan 121, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN