PVLimits: PV thermodynamic limit calculator

By Mohammad Ryyan Khan1, Xin Jin1, Muhammad A. Alam1

1. Purdue University

The tool is designed to calculate the thermodynamic performance limit of single-junction and multi-junction solar cells.

Launch Tool

This tool version is unpublished and cannot be run. If you would like to have this version staged, you can put a request through HUB Support.

Archive Version 1.1
Published on 03 Jun 2016 All versions

doi:10.4231/D37H1DN7Q cite this



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PVLimits is a general purpose software that calculates the thermodynamic performance limits of single-junction (SJ), multi-junction (MJ), Concentration, and bifacial solar cells. The user may choose the input spectrum (e.g., AM1.5G or Blackbody, distance from the Sun, concentration, etc.) and specify the parameters of the solar cell (temperature, bandgap, number of subcells in MJ cell etc.).  The Supporting Material Tab above contains a how-to-use manual (with several tutorial examples), a quiz, a 1-page formula sheet, and two background papers.

Briefly, the calculations are based on detailed particle balance in the radiative limit.

PVLimits has options to calculate the following:

  1. Single junction PV:
    1. J-V for a single bandgap
    2. Eg-sweep: PV output parameters as a function of bandgap (Eg)
  2. Multi-junction PV:
    1. J-V for a given number of subcells (N). The bandgaps are optimized accordingly
    2. N-sweep: PV output parameters as a function of number of subcells (N).


[1]          W. Shockley and H. J. Queisser, “Detailed Balance Limit of Efficiency of p-n Junction Solar Cells,” J. Appl. Phys., vol. 32, no. 3, p. 510, 1961.

[2]          L. C. Hirst and N. J. Ekins-Daukes, “Fundamental losses in solar cells,” Prog. Photovolt: Res. Appl., vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 286–293, 2011.

[3]          M. A. Alam and M. R. Khan, “Fundamentals of PV efficiency interpreted by a two-level model,” American Journal of Physics, vol. 81, no. 9, pp. 655–662, Sep. 2013.

[4]          M. R. Khan and M. A. Alam, “Thermodynamic limit of bifacial double-junction tandem solar cells,” Applied Physics Letters, vol. 107, no. 22, p. 223502, Nov. 2015.

[5]          M. A. Alam and M. R. Khan, “A Markov Chain Approach for Defining the Fundamental Efficiency Limits of Classical and Bifacial Multi-junction Tandem Solar Cells,” 2016.

[6]          M. R. Khan and M. . Alam, “Critical binding energy for exciton dissociation and its implications for the thermodynamic limit of organic photovoltaics,” in Device Research Conference (DRC), 2014 72nd Annual, 2014, pp. 281–282.


Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Mohammad Ryyan Khan; Xin Jin; Muhammad A. Alam (2017), "PVLimits: PV thermodynamic limit calculator," https://nanohub.org/resources/pvlimits. (DOI: 10.4231/D37H1DN7Q).

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