Dr.ir. R. (Rudi) Santbergen

Dr.ir. R. (Rudi) Santbergen



As a student, I was immediately fascinated when first learning how solar cells utilize the photovoltaic effect to convert the most abundant energy form, solar, directly into the most versatile form, electricity. Then and there, I decided that I wanted to work in photovoltaics, even though at that time, solar panels were far from economical. Over the last decades, I've been lucky to witness the technological innovations that made solar electricity the attractive renewable energy source it is today. Although this went hand-in-hand with an exponential growth of the installed solar capacity, today 'only' 10% of the Dutch, and 4% of global electricity, is generated by photovoltaics. So today, we're only still at the start of the energy transition. On the horizon, there are further breakthrough innovations in photovoltaic materials, device architectures, module concepts, and system designs waiting to happen. I foresee a sunny future for photovoltaics.


Within the photovoltaic materials and devices (PVMD) section, I'm responsible for the research line' photovoltaic multiscale modelling'. Although advanced models exist, ranging from atomistic models of photovoltaic materials to energy yield models for large scale photovoltaic power plants, the challenge is to integrate these models. A modelling tool giving quantitative insight into how modifications at the smallest scale impact the largest scale does not yet exist. Still, it could significantly accelerate the development of next-generation photovoltaics. Therefore, our team's mission is to develop an integrated modelling framework for designing the next generation of photovoltaic materials, devices, modules, and systems.


At TU Eindhoven, I studied Applied Physics and got interested in developing physical models. In 2008 I obtained my PhD degree in 'Optical Absorption Factor of Solar Cells for Photovoltaic/Thermal Systems' under the supervision of prof. Ronald van Zolingen. The algorithms I have developed form the foundation of the solar cell optical model 'GenPro4', used by researchers worldwide. Then in 2009, prof. Miro Zeman invited me to join the PVMD group at TU Delft to extend the modelling capabilities of the group. I spent my sabbatical in the solar cell group of Dr Kenji Yamamoto at Kaneka corporation in Japan. Finally, in 2019 prof. Olindo Isabella gave me the opportunity to head the above-mentioned research line of 'photovoltaic multiscale modelling' as assistant professor in the PVMD group. Over the years, I've been responsible for a wide range of modelling tasks, working in Dutch, European and bilateral projects and enjoyed working with many experts in the field. For further details on the topics I have been involved in, please check the list of publications below. 

Read more




An overview of Rudi’s publications can be found here.

/* */