Faculty of Engineering

print version

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2016 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.

Monash University

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Department of Materials Science and Engineering


Associate Professor Christopher Mcneill



  • First semester 2016 (Day)


Materials and principles for energy production, storage and conversion will be covered in detail. Topics 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 and dye-sensitised solar cells, Electro catalytic 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.


On 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
  • explain the theory underpinning photo-(electro)-catalysis and photo driven water spitting
  • describe energy storage materials including batteries, capacitors, hydrogen storage materials and identify the benefits and shortcomings of each
  • learn advanced skills in electrochemical methods such as measuring the CV and impedance of electroactive materials, over potential, 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
  • 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-sensitised 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.


Final examination (3 hours): 60%
Internal continuous assessment: 40%

Workload requirements

4 hours lectures/tutorials, 2 hours of laboratory classes and 6 hours of private study.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)