An overview of photovoltaic energy conversion principles

Abstract Photovoltaic energy conversion is an extraordinarily active research field, mainly due to the need for increasing the participation of renewable energy sources in the world energy matrix. Research efforts range from the photovoltaic devices modelling from first principles or using phenomenology and the development and characterization of novel photovoltaic materials and devices to environmental and economical aspects of photovoltaic energy. The present work presents the physical aspects of photovoltaic energy conversion, using in a pedagogical way a two system level coupled to a photon field as a toy model to discuss the main ideas, serving as a quick guide for researchers and students in the field.