Professional Course

Solar Energy: Photovoltaic (PV) Energy Conversion

edX, Online
12 weeks
250 USD
Next course start
Start anytime See details
Self-paced Online
12 weeks
250 USD
Next course start
Start anytime See details
Self-paced Online
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Course description

Solar Energy: Photovoltaic (PV) Energy Conversion

The key factor in getting more efficient and cheaper solar energy panels is the advance in the development of photovoltaic cells. In this course you will learn how photovoltaic cells convert solar energy into useable electricity. You will also discover how to tackle potential loss mechanisms in solar cells. By understanding the semiconductor physics and optics involved, you will develop in-depth knowledge of how a photovoltaic cell works under different conditions. You will learn how to model all aspects of a working solar cell. For engineers and scientists working in the photovoltaic industry, this course is an absolute must to understand the opportunities for solar cell innovation.

This course is part of the Solar Energy Engineering MicroMasters Program designed to cover all physics and engineering aspects of photovoltaics: photovoltaic energy conversion, technologies and systems.

We recommend that you complete this course prior to taking the other courses in this MicroMasters program.

Upcoming start dates

1 start date available

Start anytime

  • Self-paced Online
  • Online
  • English

Who should attend?


Bachelor's degree in Science or Engineering or the successful completion of TU Delft's Professional Certificate Program Solar Energy.

Training content


How do solar cells convert solar energy into electrical energy? What are the basic building blocks of a solar cell?

Semiconductor Basics

What are semiconductors? What is a band diagram?

Generation and Recombination

What are the physics of charge carriers?


The P-N Junction

What is a diode? How does a diode change when we apply a voltage? What about when we illuminate it with solar energy?

Advanced Concepts in Semiconductors

What happens when we connect a semiconductor to a metal? What other types of junctions of semiconductor materials are important for solar cells?

Light management 1: Refraction/Dispersion/Refraction

Which optical phenomena are important for solar cells? How can we use them to make sure maximal light is absorbed.


Light management 2: Light Scattering

Which techniques can we use to scatter light in our solar cell to enhance optical path length?

Electrical Losses

Pull all the concepts together to understand how to engineer solar cells.


Course delivery details

This course is offered through The Georgia Institute of Technology, a partner institute of EdX.

10-11 hours per week


  • Verified Track -$250
  • Audit Track - Free

Certification / Credits

What you'll learn

  • The principles behind the potential loss mechanisms in photovoltaic devices
  • The semiconductor physics necessary to understand solar cell performance and engineering
  • The optics and light management tools necessary for optimal solar cell design
  • To model all aspects of a working solar cell, understanding the efficiency limits and design rules

Audit learners can develop their skills and knowledge in relation to the above learning objectives by having access to the video lectures, a limited number of practice exercises and discussion forums.

Verified learners are offered a number of study tools to demonstrate they have mastered the learning objectives. They will have access to all exercises: practice, graded and exam questions.

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141 Portland Street
02139 Cambridge Massachusetts


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