Physics of Solar Cells

[updated 01/18/17]

Course Info

  • ECE 495/595 (57076, 57077): Special Topics
  • Lecture: Monday & Wednesday, 8:00-9:15am in ECE 210


  • (Recommended) ECE 371: Materials and Devices
  • The above prerequisite is not explicitly required, but students would benefit from some understanding of semiconductors and solid-state devices prior to taking this class. If you do not have any prior background in these areas, please see the instructor.


Introduction to solar cell physics, materials, and characterization. This course will cover several topics including global energy requirements and sources, the photovoltaic effect, limiting efficiency of solar cells, electronic and optical properties of photovoltaic materials, solar cell device physics, design of solar cells, monocrystalline and thin film solar cells, photon management, device characterization, and next-generation technologies.


  • Prof. Kyle Montgomery (Research Assistant Professor)
  • Office: ECE 230D
  • Office Hours: by appointment
  • Email:
    • When you email me, please put “[ECE595]” in the subject, so that it is filtered appropriately.
  • Website:


  • REQUIRED: The Physics of Solar Cells, Jenny Nelson, Imperial College Press, 2003
  • Recommended Supplemental Text (not required for this course): Solar CellsMartin Green, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1998


  • On the course calendar, reading assignments are given that correlate with the material being presented on that day. You are encouraged to review these sections prior to coming to that day’s class.

Course Grading

  • 25% Homework
  • 25% Midterm
  • 25% Term Project
  • 25% Final Exam


  • Late Assignments: Unless you have a documented reason (such as a Dr’s note) for missing the homework deadline, your late homework will not be accepted. If you do have an excuse, you must deliver your homework in person to Dr. Montgomery within 24 hours of the due date/time. No late homework accepted past 24 hours.
  • Solutions: Homework solutions will be posted on the day that homework is returned.
  • Working with Peers: Collaborating with your classmates on homework assignments is encouraged, however, each student must still submit their own individual homework. Collaboration–good. Blatant copying–bad.
  • Format: Homework should be done on standard 8 1/2 x 11″ paper. Staple all pages together, in order. Write your full name, last name first, on each page (write name as it is shown on your official UNM records). Write the homework number on the first page.
  • Grading: Homework is graded on a 50 point scale. Any questions regarding grading must be addressed within one week of receiving your graded homework back. 


  • You may have one sheet of notes for the midterm and two sheets of notes for the final. 
  • You may use a calculator (but not on your phone). 
  • Questions regarding grading must be addressed within one week of receiving your score, otherwise the score is final. This should be done in person with Dr. Montgomery, by appointment.