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Energy Transition: Photon Power


Admission Requirements

This course is available only for students in the minor Sustainable Chemistry and Biotechnology


In this course, you will learn about photochemical processes in which solar energy is converted into electricity, fuel or biomass. We will first discuss the quality of sunlight and compare theoretical maximum efficiencies for different solar energy-conversion processes. The following lectures will teach the principles of natural photosynthesis and of photovoltaics, and of electron transfer and photocatalysis in man-made artificial or engineered photosynthetic systems. We will discuss different concepts of artificial photosynthetic systems and integration into a solar fuel device. Furthermore, we will discuss solar end products that may be obtained and the contribution and future potential of “photon power” for sustainability, food and energy security. At the end of the course, you give a group project presentation related to one of the lecture themes.

Course Objectives

At the end of the course students:

  • can explain concepts of quantum efficiency and the causes of energy losses in photosynthesis and photovoltaics

  • can describe the principles of photovoltaics and of photo-induced electron transfer and photo-catalysis in natural photosynthesis and in manmade systems

  • can critically reflect on the costs and benefits of photovoltaics, solar and biofuels for renewable energy


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and seminars

Assessment Method

40% of the grade based on weekly home assignments
10% based on participation to the discussion sessions
50% based on the final presentation on a group project

Reading List

Fundamentals of Materials for Energy and Environmental Sustainability,
David S. Ginley & David Cahen, Cambridge University Press, 2012.
available as e-book via Leiden University Library (weblink on Brightspace)

Literature discussed during lectures and student presentations


Every student has to register for courses with the enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information. Exemptions are minor students and fall semester for 1st year bachelor students: the student administration will enroll these groups for courses.

Please note that it is compulsory to register your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course.


Anjali Pandit Francesco Buda