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Image Capture, Processing and Analysis of Solar Cells for Engineering Education

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.883.1 - 26.883.12



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Paper Authors

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Michael G Mauk P.E. Drexel University

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Richard Chiou Drexel University (Eng. & Eng. Tech.)

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If present trends hold, the world may well be on the verge of the “SolarAge”, where photovoltaics will make a substantial (> 20%) contributionto our total electrical energy needs. Photovoltaic materials, devices,and systems should therefore be prominent in engineering education.In addition, solar cells are very informative specimens for teachingimage capture, processing, and analysis as means for studying materialsscience, semiconductor devices, optics, thin-film technology,manufacturing automation, machine vision, quality assurance, andstatistical process control. For example, imaging a solar cell withvisible and infrared cameras can reveal its grain structure (grain sizeand texture), crystallographic defects, surface reflectivity androughness, surface contamination, and manufacturing flaws (e.g.,broken grid lines or chips). As a further example, laser scanning withimage mapping provides spatial resolution of performance-limitingfeatures and effects for solar cell diagnostics. Solar cells are made in avariety of materials and configurations, and generally exhibit a widerange of optical, electrical, and thermal phenomena including inaddition to the photovoltaic effect, photoluminescence,electroluminescence, photoconductivity, and light trapping. Theoperation of a solar cell, as well as many phenomena revealed byimaging, are sensitive to material quality, and thus solar cells are good“probes” of material properties. High resolution visible and infrared(thermal) cameras are now available at low cost. Solar cells are cheapand readily available. Powerful image processing software comes withMATLAB or freeware (ImageJ). Most of the experiments can bedone on a desktop or lab bench. Thus, these experiments and projectsmake only modest demands on school resources. Here we describeand discuss solar cell imaging as accessible, highly instructive, easy-to-implement case studies for teaching and integrating a variety ofincreasingly important engineering and science disciplines.

Mauk, M. G., & Chiou, R. (2015, June), Image Capture, Processing and Analysis of Solar Cells for Engineering Education Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24220

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