Solar cells technologies and lifecycle

Photovoltaics Solar cells technologies and lifecycle

Solar cells technologies and lifecycle

Curriculum 1

The PhD candidates will acquire knowledge and skills leading them to understand and be able to innovate materials, structure and technology of solar cells. The whole panorama of technologies will be studied, from the established silicon based technology, up to new concepts based on hybrid and organic materials, quantum dots solar cells, multijunction and concentrator devices. Always taking into account the environmental impact and the life cycle.

Basic knowledge will be acquired in the common courses that will be given to the doctoral students. Such knowledge will include the fundamental mechanisms of the light-matter interaction, the intrinsic thermodynamic limits in the photovoltaic conversion process and the structure of photovoltaic conversion devices. The goal will be to allow students to handle the figures of merit of solar cells and modules, and to understand how they depend on the topological and technological choices available to the designer. The dependencies of characteristic parameters on operating and environmental conditions, such as temperature and irradiance, will be studied, along with interactions occurring when several solar cells are connected to each other to form solar modules and complex systems. Parasitic parameters and physical-chemical mechanisms leading to the onset of unexpected and unwanted phenomena, such as overheating or degradation of performance induced by some operating conditions, will be studied as well.

The availability of state-of-the-art facilities and laboratories at the locations involved in the PhD program will allow candidates with solid knowledge of the technological processes used in the fabrication of solar cells. In particular, thin film deposition techniques relying on Chemical and Physical Vapor Deposition, wet chemistry based approaches and the deposition of functional coatings by means of physical / chemical techniques will be studied. A special focus will be given to the relationship between technological processes and electrical performance of photovoltaic devices, with the aim of developing in PhD candidates critical skills aimed at overcoming bottlenecks towards more performing and sustainable future devices.

The knowledge of basic physics, chemistry and technologies will be completed by giving to PhD candidates the ability to analytically model all phenomena involved in the photovoltaic conversion and by the knowledge of the most advanced numerical analysis tools that allow to recreate in a virtual environment the structure and optoelectronic properties of photovoltaic devices.

At the same time, students will acquire all needed knowledge to characterize, by means of advanced measurement techniques, the figure of merit of solar cells, the optoelectronics properties of absorber layers and individual technological processes. This goal will be pursued by providing proper training on characterization instruments and techniques available in the laboratories involved in the program.

At a more advanced level, it is expected that candidates, depending on their aptitudes, concentrate their studies on salient aspects of specific technologies, chosen among the most promising in the current panorama. For example, PhD candidates will be allowed to deepen technology and/or modeling and characterization of heterojunction solar cells, thin film solar cells (CdTe, CIGS, CZTS, Sb2Se3, SnS), multijunction solar cells and solar cells based on emerging technologies, such as those based on Perovskite or others.

Last but not least, in all courses, emphasis will be placed on the recycling process at the end of life of solar modules and materials. How the properties of the materials affect the expected lifetime of solar cells, thus determining the Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROEI), will be also studied.

The interdisciplinary nature of the PhD program will be guaranteed by the provision that candidates will spend part of their time in different laboratories of the national network and they will attend courses held by both academic and industrial experts with different backgrounds.