Manufacturing Science of Solar Cells

Fall Session A 2014

About the Course

Photovoltaics engineers, scientists and managers must have a good working understanding of how solar cells are manufactured, improved and sustained in real solar cell factories, in order to succeed in their fields. Students enrolled in this class will learn about the manufacture of silicon solar cells, specifically about engineering in the manufacturing environment. The course covers several engineering tools/methods used by engineers to improve solar cell performance and reduce solar cell cost in manufacturing, namely statistical decision making, cost modelling and regression modelling. Students will use these tools in the course’s virtual laboratory – the Virtual Cell Factory – where they will work as virtual employees of the “Virtual Cells Inc.” company. This company is in dire financial straits, and students will work to “save the company” from eminent bankruptcy. Students who successfully complete this course will have a practical understanding of the manufacturing engineering skills/tools that engineers use to make improvements in cost and performance in a real solar cell factory environment.

Students in this course should have a good foundation in basic mathematics, statistics, physics and chemistry. The course will be open to senior/junior-level undergraduate and graduate-level students.

About the Instructor

Dr. Jeff Cotter has been working in solar photovoltaics for 20+ years, including research and development, tertiary education and high-volume manufacturing. For the past 5 years, he was Director of the technology deployment team at Sunpower Manufacturing Limited, in the Philippines, where he and his team deployed Sunpower’s Gen II, 22.4% efficient silicon solar cell from R&D into high-volume production. The Gen II reached almost 1.0+ GW of annual production in 2011. Before joining Sunpower, he was an Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales, where he was a co-founder of the School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering – the world’s first undergraduate degree programs in Photovotaics and Renewable Energy.
Jeff is also teaching a new course this Spring Session B on cell fabrication entitled “Science and Technology of Solar Cell Fabrication” at ASU.

Questions about the course?

Email Jeff at

 Course Flyer