Modeling, simulation and design of novel photovoltaic devices and materials


Achieving high-efficiency solar cells is one of the fundamental technological challenges to satisfy the evergrowing world's demand for energy by renewable sources. To this end, this research activity is dedicated to exploring diverse efficiency enhancement strategies, both at material and device level.

Advanced modeling tools are a key asset for the optimization of existing photovoltaic technologies and for prototyping novel concepts, linking fundamental predictions grounded on thermodynamics to experiments. In this view, this research activity is founded on the development of novel simulation techniques, leading to a multiscale and multiphysics simulation suite capable of describing the complex interplay of material science, electromagnetics, electrical carrier transport, and heat conduction and radiation aspects.

One efficiency-enhancement strategy focuses on harnessing photon management through the integration of metamaterials that can tailor the solar cell optical characteristics. This approach is applied to (possibly thin) solar cells, with reduction of costs and environmental impact in terrestrial applications, and improved radiation hardness and lifespan in space applications. This undertaking encompasses the exploration of various dielectric/semiconductor micro- and nano-structures capable of increasing the photon lifetime within the solar cell, and frontier approaches such as photonic metaconcretes employed as radiative heat sinks, based on the management of thermal photons for the passive radiative cooling of photovoltaics panels.

A second strategy regards the exploration, with analytic and physics-based simulation approaches, of tandem and multi-junction solar cells, which consist of cells with different bandgaps, stacked one on each other, to harvest the Sun spectrum more efficiently than a single-gap cell. In particular, the activity explores 3-terminal tandem cells based on heterostructure bipolar transistor (HBT) structures grown on III-V semiconductors, including silicon, perovskite, and CIGS materials.

A third strategy is targeting intermediate band (IB) solar cells, featuring the sequential absorption of two sub-bandgap photons --via an IB coupled to the conduction and valence bands only optically-- to extend the sun harvesting up to the mid-infrared range, yielding simultaneously large photocurrent and high voltage. The activity explores either (i) quantum-dot nanostructures, studied with suitable quantum-corrected transport models, or (ii) "by-design" IB materials, synthesized through ab-initio and density functional theory methods combined with the Boltzmann transport equation formalism.

ERC sectors 

  • PE3_4 Electronic properties of materials, surfaces, interfaces, nanostructures
  • PE7_3 Simulation engineering and modelling
  • PE7_5 (Micro- and nano-) electronic, optoelectronic and photonic components
  • PE7_11 Components and systems for applications (in e.g. medicine, biology, environment)


  • Solar cells
  • Semiconductor device modelling
  • Multiphysics semiconductor device modeling (optics, transport, thermal)
  • Photon management
  • Quantum dots
  • Photon recycling
  • Light trapping
  • Radiative cooling
  • Quantum dots
  • Intermediate band
  • Material design
  • Tandem solar cells
  • Multi-terminal solar cells
  • Perovskites