Faculty of Engineering

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Engineering
Organisational UnitDepartment of Materials Engineering
OfferedClayton First semester 2013 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Assoc Professor Bjorn Winther-Jensen


Materials and principles for energy production, storage and conversion will be described in detail. Topics covered include: light harvesting materials; solar power conversion efficiency; interaction of light with matter; inorganic solar cells (crystalline silicon, amorphous silicon, CdTe, CIGS), organic solar cells, dye-sensitized solar cells; electrocatalytic materials, fuel-cells, water-splitting; photo-(electro)-catalysis and modern battery systems, Li-ion cells and Li metal cells, metal-air batteries, flow batteries, advanced electrolytes; principles in capacitors, carbon materials, nanotubes, graphene, mesoporous materials; hydrogen storage materials and electrochemical methods.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students will:

  • be able to explain why the energy landscape is changing and the role materials will play in alternate energy technologies in the broad areas of energy production, storage and conversion
  • be able to explain the theory underpinning photo-(electro)-catalysis and photo driven water-spitting
  • be able to describe energy storage materials including batteries, capacitors and hydrogen storage materials and identify the benefits and shortcomings of each
  • have learnt advanced skills in electrochemical methods such as measuring the CV and impedance of electroactive materials, overpotential, columbic efficiency and capacity
  • appreciate the potential for solar energy to contribute to sustainable power generation
  • understand the general operating principles of photovoltaic devices (solar cells)
  • understand what properties are required for a material to be efficiently utilised in a solar cell
  • be able to measure solar cell performance and determine the power conversion efficiency of a device
  • understand the structure of efficient crystalline silicon, amorphous silicon, CdTe, CIGS, organic and dye-sensitized solar cells
  • understand what limits the power conversion efficiency of conventional solar cells and appreciate strategies for developing next generation cells that overcome these limitations.


Two 3-hour practical classes: 15%, two written assignments: 15%, One 1-hour mid-semester test: 10% and 3-hour written examination: 60%.

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

3 lectures/tutorials per week, a total of 2 three hour laboratory sessions each requiring three hours report preparation (1hr per week), 8 hrs of private study per week.