Classes at MIT

Fundamentals of Photovoltaics (Fall Semesters; 2.626 grad / 2.627 undergrad)

Prof. Buonassisi teaches “Fundamentals for Photovoltaics” in the Fall semester as part of the MIT Energy Minor. Course content, available online via OpenCourseware, includes:

  • Fundamentals of photoelectric conversion: charge excitation, conduction, separation, and collection.
  • Commercial and emerging photovoltaic (PV) technologies.
  • Cross-cutting themes in PV: conversion efficiencies, loss mechanisms, characterization, manufacturing, systems, reliability, life-cycle analysis, risk analysis.
  • Photovoltaic technology evolution in the context of markets, policies, society, and environment.

Online course material via Stellar and MIT Open Courseware.

Prof. Buonassisi is eager to learn from others’ experiences teaching PV. Send him a note about your own PV course!

For subject evaluations, click here.

PV Course History & Impact:

  • 2004: The predecessor to the MIT course (MSE/ERC C226) is taught at UC Berkeley by (then grad students) Ilan Gur and Tonio Buonassisi, together with Profs. Dan Kammen and Eicke Weber. Alumni of this course currently hold positions in PV companies, national laboratories, government, and universities worldwide; their accolades include world-record solar-cell efficiencies and TR-35 awards. Notable course participants include Cyrus Wadia, Becca Jones, Mike Scarpulla, and Matt Law, among others.
  • Jan. 2006 & Jan. 2007: Abridged version of the Berkeley course is offered during the MIT independent activities period (IAP). Buonassisi co-organizes the course with Evergreen Solar colleague Adam Lorenz and MIT Energy Club founder and president Dave Danielson.
  • 2007: Tonio Buonassisi co-organizes and hosts pedagogical workshop at MIT, “Modernizing Photovoltaics Education at the University Level,” attended by educators from U.S., German, and Portuguese universities and the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • 2008: Semester-long course first offered at MIT
  • 2009: Four laboratory modules introduced
  • 2011: “Solar-cell bootcamp” fabrication offered as part of the course. Class projects help improve campus PV system yield.
  • 2012: PV course offered at KFUPM as ME 442, in collaboration with Prof. Nouar Tabet. See course video.
  • 2013: First half of the course is “flipped”: lectures are delivered by video at night, and daytime class time focuses on hands-on activities and discussion


Solid Mechanics (2.001)

Prof. Buonassisi teaches “Solid Mechanics” (2.001) during the Spring semester, as part of the undergraduate Mechanical Engineering core curriculum. In 2010, Prof. Buonassisi introduced a stress visualization lab using infrared birefringence imaging. In 2011, led by Prof. Ely Sachs, a series of hands-on learning modules were introduced to visualize fundamentals of solid mechanics. Course topics include:

  • Introduction to statics and the mechanics of deformable solids
  • Emphasis on the three basic principles of equilibrium, geometric compatibility, and material behavior
  • Stress and its relation to force and moment; strain and its relation to displacement; linear elasticity with thermal expansion
  • Failure modes. Application to simple engineering structures such as rods, shafts, beams, and trusses

Worldwide access via Stellar

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