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Solar Cell

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Solar Cell

A solar cell (Figure 1), or photovoltaic cell (previously termed "solar battery"), is an electrical device that converts the energy of light directly into electricity by the photovoltaic effect, which is a physical and chemical phenomenon.  It is a form of photoelectric cell, defined as a device whose electrical characteristics, such as current, voltage, or resistance, vary when exposed to light. Solar cells are the building blocks of photovoltaic modules, otherwise known as solar panels.

Solar Cell

Figure 1 -  Solar Cell

Application: As renewable energy safe and clean, solar cell is becoming used as an important source of energy. It is applied in many domains such home applications (Figure 2), industrial, public lighting, smart phone charge , aerospace (Figure 3).

Solar Panels  used as source of energy in home
Figure 2 - Solar Panels  used as source of energy in home

International Space Station powered by solar panels
Figure 3 - International Space Station powered by solar panels


Why Simulate Solar Cells ?

  • Improving PV efficiency
  • Optimizing for design performance and target reliability
  • Reducing the effects of variation on system performance
  • Predicting manufacturing yields
  • Lowering production costs 

Description of the problem

Continuous innovation makes cells more complex ( More process and geometrical variables – 3D effects, complex light path, etc …). This why it’s impractical to design new cells without simulation. EMS Electric Conduction Module offers the opportunity to simulate solar cell and avoid a lot of experiments which are needed to investigate design model. 

The model is a single cell from a solar panel (Figure 4). The cell consists of a pair of aluminum electrodes covering a silicon cell. The top electrode is a thin tapered body, and has an electric potential of 0.6V. The bottom electrode is a flat rectangle, acting as ground. The analysis focuses on determining the voltage drop across the silicon cell, and along the tapered end of the front electrode (figure 5). The electric field and the current density are the main analysis points.

Solar Cell simulated model
Figure 4 - Solar Cell simulated model

Solar Cell operations
Figure 5 - Solar Cell operations


After creating an Electric Conduction in EMS, four important steps shall always be followed: 1 - apply the proper material for all solid bodies, 2- apply the necessary boundary conditions, or the so called Loads/Restraints in EMS, 3 - mesh the entire model and 4- run the solver. Note that for the Electric Conduction analysis no air shall be modeled.


In the Electric Conduction analysis of EMS,  only electric and thermal conductivity (in case of thermal coupling) are needed (Table 1).

Table1 - Table of materials

Components / Bodies Material Conductivity (S/m)
Back Electrode Aluminum 38.2e+006
Front Electrode Aluminum 38.2e+006
Silicon Cell Silicon 1.2e-005

Load and Restraint

In this study, Only fixed voltages are applied

Table 2 - Applied Fixed Voltage

Name Fixed Voltage
Front Electrode 0.6 V
Back Electrode 0 V


Meshing is a very crucial step in the design analysis. EMS estimates a global element size for the model taking into consideration its volume, surface area, and other geometric details. The size of the generated mesh (number of nodes and elements) depends on the geometry and dimensions of the model, element size, mesh tolerance, and mesh control. In the early stages of design analysis where approximate results may suffice, you can specify a larger element size for a faster solution. For a more accurate solution, a smaller element size may be required.
Mesh quality can be adjusted using Mesh Control (Table 3), which can be applied on solid bodies and faces. Below (Figure 4) is the meshed model after using Mesh Controls.

Table 3 -  Mesh control

Name Mesh size Components /Bodies
Mesh control 1 2e-005 mm Front and Back Electrode
meshed model
Figure 6 - meshed model


After running the simulation of this example we can obtain many results. Electric Conduction of EMS is used to compute and Visualize  Electric Field(Figure 7,8), Current Density (Figure 9,10) and potential(Figure 11). A results table also generated contains the resistance and dissipated power.

EMS offer the possibility of many types of plot. Below we can observe fringe, line and vector plot.

Electric Field, fringe plot
Figure 7 - Electric Field, fringe plot

Electric Field, line plot
Figure 8 - Electric Field, line plot

Current Density, fringe plot
Figure 9 - Current Density, fringe plot

Current Density, vector plot
Figure 10 - Current Density, vector plot

Potential of solar cell
Figure 11 - Potential of solar cell


Simulation using EMS of multiple of studies with different parameters leads to more optimization of the solar cell.


Electric Conduction Analysis of a Solar Panel