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Physics of Solar Cells: From Principles to New Concepts

Physics of Solar Cells: From Principles to New Concepts

Peter Würfel

ISBN: 978-3-527-61854-5 December 2007 198 Pages


Peter Würfel describes in detail all aspects of solar cell function, the physics behind every single step, as well as all the issues to be considered when improving solar cells and their efficiency.

Based on the highly successful German version, but thoroughly revised and updated, this edition contains the latest knowledge on the mechanisms of solar energy conversion. Requiring no more than standard physics knowledge, it enables readers to understand the factors driving conversion efficiency and to apply this knowledge to their own solar cell development.
List of Symbols.


1 Problems of the Energy Economy.

1.1 Energy economy.

1.2 Estimate of the maximum reserves of fossil energy.

1.3 The greenhouse effect.

2 Photons.

2.1 Black-body radiation.

2.2 Kirchhoff’s law of radiation for non-black bodies.

2.3 The solar spectrum.

2.4 Concentration of the solar radiation.

2.5 Maximum efficiency of solar energy conversion.

3 Semiconductors.

3.1 Electrons in semiconductors.

3.2 Holes.

3.3 Doping.

3.4 Quasi-Fermi distributions.

3.5 Generation of electrons and holes.

3.6 Recombination of electrons and holes.

3.7 Light emission by semiconductors.

4 Conversion of Thermal Radiation into Chemical Energy.

4.1 Maximum efficiency for the production of chemical energy.

5 Conversion of Chemical Energy into Electrical Energy.

5.1 Transport of electrons and holes.

5.2 Separation of electrons and holes.

5.3 Diffusion length of minority carriers.

5.4 Dielectric relaxation.

5.5 Ambipolar diffusion.

5.6 Dember effect.

5.7 Mathematical description.

6 Basic Structure of Solar Cells.

6.1 A chemical solar cell.

6.2 Basic mechanisms in solar cells.

6.3 Dye solar cell.

6.4 The pn-junction.

6.5 pn-junction with impurity recombination, two-diode model.

6.6 Hetero-junctions.

6.7 Semiconductor–metal contact.

6.8 The role of the electric field in solar cells.

7 Limitations on Energy Conversion in Solar Cells.

7.1 Maximum efficiency of solar cells.

7.2 Efficiency of solar cells as a function of their energy gap.

7.3 The optimal silicon solar cell.

7.4 Thin-film solar cells.

7.5 Equivalent circuit.

7.6 Temperature dependence of the open-circuit voltage.

7.7 Intensity dependence of the efficiency.

7.8 Efficiencies of the individual energy conversion processes.

8 Concepts for Improving the Efficiency of Solar Cells.

8.1 Tandem cells.

8.2 Concentrator cells.

8.3 Thermo-photovoltaic energy conversion.

8.4 Impact ionization.

8.5 Two-step excitation in three-level systems.

9 Prospects for the Future.



"…a fresh perspective on the physics and theory of converting solar energy into electricity." (MRS Bulletin, February 2007)

"Anybody interested in learning the fundamentals of solar cells will benefit greatly from reading this book. The book also serves as a reference for researchers working already in this exciting and challenging field." (Advanced Materials)