Career Training: Solar Energy                                 

A career that makes use of solar energy can take many different forms. EECS students can receive a background in making solar cells, solar energy conversion, using solar cells and photovoltaics in devices and systems, and integrating solar energy into the nation's grid structure.

ENG100ENG 100: Photovoltaics and Solar-Powered Systems

Instructor: Jamie Phillips

Students will learn about photovoltaics and apply their knowledge to design, build, and test a prototype of a new product powered by solar energy. Students will begin their team experience by building a solar-powered model car to race against other teams in the class. Students will then conduct more advanced laboratory experiments to measure and analyze energy conversion inpolycrystalline silicon solar cells, charging and discharging of Ni-Hydridebatteries, and conversion of electricity to light in high-brightness light emitting diodes. Teams will then propose a new product powered by solar energy. This will be the primary course project and will have an entrepreneurial feel, where teams will consider the economic, environmental, and societal impacts of the product they are proposing. Teams will design, build, and test a prototype of their proposed new product and present at an expo at the end of the semester.

EECS320EECS 320: Intro to Semiconductor Devices

Recent Instructors: Pallab Bhattacharya, Jay Guo, Wei Lu, Zhaohui Zhong

This is an introduction to semiconductor devices. The course begins with a discussion on how electron energy bands are formed in semiconductors; followed by discussions on equilibrium statistics of electrons and holes, drift, diffusion currents, and generation and recombination processes. It then examine the principles and operations of essential semiconductor devices used in today's electronics: diodes, lightdetectors and emitters, bipolar junction transistors and MOSFETs. The goal is to develop a solid understanding of the device concepts that will be needed in a broad range of areas from semiconductor to circuit (analog, digital and VLSI) design and engineering.

EECS420EECS 420: Physical Principles Underlying Smart Devices

Recent Instructor: Zhaohui Zhong

This course provides a general introduction to the underlying physics behind solid state devices. General topics include: Crystal structure; Phonons; Introduction to Quantum Mechanics; Free electron Fermi gas; Low dimensional conductors; Electronic structure – Energy bands; Properties of semiconductors; Dielectrics response; Light absorption and emission; Magnetic effects; Superconductivity.

EECS423EECS 423: Solid-State Device Laboratory

Recent Instructor: Stella Pang

This course give students the opportunity to learn basic principles and have hands-on experience with semiconductor fabrication technologies and device testing. Each student will fabricate and test polycrystalline Si gate, n-channel enhancement Si Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors (MOSFETs), diodes, capacitors, and related devices throughout the course. Fabrication technology including lithography, etching, deposition, oxidation, diffusion, and annealing will be studied. Students will practice the semiconductor fabrication technology in the cleanroom of the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility. The fabrication technology and devices shown in this course can be applied to the development of solar cells, as well as various solar energy devices and systems.

EECS423EECS 425: Integrated Microsystems Laboratory

Recent Instructor: Euisik Yoon

This is a project-oriented laboratory course in integrated microsystem design, fabrication (in the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility), and testing. As system integration levels have increased, more and more different devices are being integrated on a common substrate, creating interesting tradeoffs in system partitioning and technology. To understand these tradeoffs, this course addresses the development of a complete multi-chip microsystem containing sensors, actuators, signal processing, output interface, and energy sources. This allows us to explore not only a basic MOS device/circuit process, but also to explore processes such as wafer bonding and micromachining that are used for transducers. Students will develop a complete integrated microsystem, from inception to final test and work in interdisciplinary design teams of typically four people. Each team will design, fabricate, and test two multi-project chips: one using a bulk silicon-on-glass process to realize a number of MEMS transducers, and the other based on a silicon-gate LOCOS E/D NMOS process for signal processing circuitry and additional sensor interface as well as an array of solar cells.

EECS429EECS 429: Semiconductor Optoelectronic Devices

Instructor: P.C. Ku

Optoelectronic devices play a crucial role in numerous technology areas including internet, data storage, high-performance computers, display, image sensors, lighting and solar cells. EECS 429 covers the fundamental device physics and materials science underlying modern optoelectronic devices including lasers, light emitting diodes, photodetectors, solar cells, and optical modulators. Special emphasis is on the concept and design of the devices as well as their applications in different technologies.

EECS498-005EECS 498: Grid Integration of Alternative Energy Sources

Instructor: Ian Hiskens

This course will present a variety of alternative energy sources, along with energy processing technologies that are required for power system connection. System integration issues will be addressed, with consideration given to impacts on current power system design philosophies and operating principles. Topics will be covered at a level suited to establishing a broad understanding of the various technologies, and of the associated system implications. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's HOMER package will be introduced, and used in the analysis and optimization of alternative energy systems.

EECS498EECS 498: Solid-State Lighting and Solar Cells

Instructor: P.C. Ku

This course introduces two closely related technologies—solid-sate lighting and solar cells—that will play a critical role in our energy future. In particular, this course aims to: Give comprehensive overview of the two technologies from basic energy conversion processes to materials, devices, systems, and deployment; Cover both inorganic and organic materials; Target senior undergraduate and graduate students in all Engineering and Science disciplines; Be an ideal course for senior students who would like to pursue a career in green energy; Culminate in a team project, which connects the course materials to a topic you choose or define.

Advanced Coursework

For students interested in more advanced coursework, there are many graduate-level (ie, 500 and above) courses available. Please check the online catalog and speak with an undergraduate advisor for more information.

A new 500-level course recently offered in this area follows:

EECS598EECS 598: Solar Cell Device Physics

Instructor: Jaime Phillips

Solar energy provides a renewable and environmentally friendly source for electricity generation. While photovoltaic cells are currently experiencing tremendous growth, there are still major barriers inimproving efficiency and reducing cost in order to achieve “grid parity” where solar power becomes a cost competitive energy source. This course will focus on the physical operation of diode solar cell devices, and detailed analysis of factors that determine the ultimate power conversion efficiency. Topics of study will include internal quantum efficiency of solar cell materials, diode device structures, light management, and current and future solar cell technologies.

Additional Information

Solar Energy Farming

> Solar Energy Farming: Connor Field (EE UG) is turning solar energy into a family business through his solar energy farm in in West Michigan.

Raj Vable Video

> Solar Power at Jnana Bodhini School Video
: Raj Vable (EE UG) initiated a project to power a computer lab in a rural south-Indian school using only solar power.

Tackling Solar Energy Challenges

> Energy and Power: Engineering Sustainable Solutions From the Macro to the Micro Levels: Researchers are investigating ways to transfer solar-produced electricity into the nation's electrical power grid and exploring new materials to make solar energy a practical reality.

Solar Power Created without Solar Cells

> Solar Power Created without Solar Cells: Prof. Stephen Rand and William Fisher (PhD Grad) discovered that a light field at the right intensity can generate magnetic effects capable of powering an "optical battery."

> Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering (SURE) Projects

Reliability of Organic Solar Cells

- Reliability of Organic Solar Cells (SURE'10): Undergraduates worked with faculty to develop methods for accelerating the degradation of organic solar cells.

- Measuring Semiconductor Optical Absorption (SURE '11): Undergraduates will work with faculty to quantitatively measure sub-band gap absorption using rarely-used optical technique.

- Solar Cell Device Modeling (SURE'11): Undergraduates will work with faculty to investigate new material structures based on II-VI compound semiconductors to achieve next generation solar cells with improved efficiency and/or lower cost.