Materials for Energy Conversion and Conservation


The aim of this discipline is to nurture the students'' knowledge on the:

- introduction to global energy challenges

- systems for solar to electrical energy comversion: working principle of a solar cell, production processes, materials that can be used, vantages and disadvantages at economical and environmental level;

- systems for the conversion of solar to thermal energy: importance of the protection/materials radiation absorbers, materials employed and in development;

- systems for conversion of thermal to electrical energy through the thermoelectric effect (Peltier elements): working principle, materials used, production processes;

- systems for convertion of mechanical to electrical energy: piezoelectrics and nano-generators;

- systems for energy storage: batteries and supercapacitors; electrochemistry and fuel cells.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Manuel João Dias Mendes, Rodrigo Ferrão de Paiva Martins


Weekly - 5

Total - 84

Teaching language



Physics I, II and III

Physical Properties of Materiais, Semiconductor Materials (or knowledge in Solid-State Physics)


- Website about photovoltaic technology:

- Books:

Energia Fotovoltaica: Materiais e Aplicações, Volumes I e II. R. Martins, H. Aguas, E. Fortunado. Nova Editorial, 2020.

Pratical Handbook of Photovoltaics – Fundamentals and applications. T. Markvark and L. Castner. Elsevier, 2003.

Handbook of Photovoltaic Science and Engineering, 2nd Ed. A. Luque and S. Hegedus. Wiley, 2010.

Solar Cells and Light Management. Enrich, Righini. Elsevier, 2020

Electrochemical Power sources, primary and secondary batteries. M. BaraK, P. Perecrinus ltd, 1980

Handbook of batteries and fuel cells. David Linden. McGraw-Hill, 1984

Teaching method

The discipline has two hours of theoretical lessons a week and 3 hours of theoretical-practical lessons and laboratories.


 A PowerPoint presentation is used for theoretical classes being the matter exposed in a class room.


 The resolution of exercices is done during the theoretical-practical lessons in class room about the matter given during the theoretical classes.


Laboratorial classes are related to the experiences demonstration of the concepts already given both in theoretical and problem sessions



Evaluation method

Evaluation methods:

- Average of 2 Tests of continuous evaluation (no minimum grade required to do exam) or Exam grade (60%);

- Report about the photovoltaic characterization work (25% of grade)

- Report about the PV system dimensioning plus batteries work (15% of grade)

Minimum grade to pass: 9.5

The practical group projects will be explained to the students and the experimental data will be provided for the students to analyze. 


Subject matter

Modules of the theoretical and practical/lab lessons:

- Introduction to the global energy challenges;

- Technologies for solar to electrical energy conversion: working principles of solar cells, production processes, materials that can be used and their advantages/disadvantages at economical and environmental level, novel concepts to improve the photovoltaic efficiency via light management with photonic strategies;

- Technologies for solar to thermal energy conversion: importance of the radiation absorbing protection/materials, materials currently employed and others under development;

- Technologies for thermal to electrical energy conversion through the thermoelectric (Peltier) effect: working principles, materials used, production processes;

- Technologies for energy storage: electrochemical operation principles of batteries and fuel cells, supercapacitors and other energy storage systems, materials used and their advantages/disadvantages, environmental issues;

- Technologies for mechanical to electrical energy conversion: piezoelectric principles, nano-generators, power management for systems harvesting energy from motion.

Group projects related with the lab classes:

- Opto-electronic characterization of solar cells and modules;

- Dimensioning project of a photovoltaic system;

- Electrical characterization of batteries/supercapacitors.