Installation and configuration

Trying Solcore

You can try Solcore without installing anything in your computer by using the online service MyBinder.org. To do so, just click in the following badge:

https://mybinder.org/badge_logo.svg

It might take a few minutes to start the server. Be patient! Once launched, this service offers a full-feature Jupyter server with Solcore and all its dependencies installed on it. You can use it to try different features and run the examples shipped with Solcore, but it is not recommended for production: resources in MyBinder are limited and the execution depends on a reliable internet connexion.

Once you are ready to install it in your own machine, go to the next section.

Installing Solcore

Solcore is written mostly in Python, but the Poisson-Drift-diffusion (PDD) solver is written in Fortran to make it more efficient. The following instructions are expected to work in most systems, but check the sections below for OS specific instructions and caveats. In order to install Solcore in your computer, you will need the following:

Pip is normally part of the standard Python installation, but you might need to install setuptools and numpy manually with:

pip install setuptools numpy

Now, installing Solcore should be as easy as writing in the terminal:

pip install solcore

This will download Solcore form the Pypi repository and install the package within the Python packages tree, but it will NOT install the PDD solver, for which you need a suitable Fortran compiler (read this to install your Fortran compiler). Assuming you have a Fortran compiler correctly installed and configured, you can install Solcore with the PDD solver by doing:

pip install solcore
pip install --no-deps --force-reinstall --install-option="--with_pdd" solcore

NOTE: Pip passes the –install-option to all the dependencies of the package and therefore the installation will fail since those dependencies do not have the option “–with_pdd”. That is the reason why, for now, Solcore needs to be installed twice: the first one to install Solcore normally with all the dependencies and the second one re-installs Solcore with PDD support.

And that’s all!! Solcore should be available to be used as with any Python package:

>>> import solcore

    Welcome to Solcore - version 5.6.0
    Copyright (c) 2018, Imperial College, London All rights reserved.
    Software released under the GNU Lesser General Public License.

Alternative installation method

Alternatively, you can download the source from the Solcore GitHub repository, either using ‘git’ or as a zip file using one of the links on the right. If you want to install it, unpack it and run from the directory where setup.py is located (you still need pip, setuptools and numpy installed; see above):

pip install .

or:

pip install . --install-option="--with_pdd"

If you want to test first if Solcore will work in your computer, without actually installing it, or if you want to become a developer and therefore you need to have it in a more accessible place, you can test if Solcore works with:

python setup.py test

This will also install the Solcore dependencies and run a few tests that probe several of the Solcore tools. If it fails, it will indicate which parts failed to work and why, and you could try to solve them. At the moment, this only cover some of Solcore’s functionality, but it will be expanded with time. The tests related to the PDD solver will fail, of course, since the PDD solver will not be compiled. If you want to test everything, compiling the the PDD solver, just run:

python setup.py test --with_pdd

Install in development mode

If you are planning to develop Solcore further, you would want to have all the files in an accessible place but still being able to use the package from other places and examples, behaving as if it were truly installed. For this, install Solcore in development mode. Download the source from the Solcore GitHub repository as above and then:

pip install -e .[dev]

or:

pip install -e .[dev] --install-option="--with_pdd"

Solcore uses pre-commit to do a few things before commiting the changes (for example, clearing the output of Jupyter Notebooks). The pre-commit package is installed automatically with the above commands, but each user needs to be initialise it before it can work. This can be done with:

pre-commit install

Check the pre-commit webpage for more information on how it works.

Getting started

After installing Solcore (or even without installing it), there are a few things you might want to do in order to personalise it and start using it. These are general instructions that, hopefully, should work in most *NIX systems. Check specific instructions for:

  1. Create a user configuration file: The first time Solcore is run, it will create a hidden folder in your user directory. This folder will contain the local configuration and will store custom materials and other parameters. You can customize the location of by setting the environmental variable SOLCORE_USER_DATA. You can check the current configuration with:
from solcore import config
print(config)

You can find all the functionality of the config object in The config_tools

  1. Check Solcore examples: This is the fastest way of getting started. These examples include all the scripts used in the main Solcore paper in the Journal of Computational Electronics (2018) and a few others to explore other functionality. We hope to increase the number and usefulness of these examples over time. You can try directly the examples using MyBinder.org.
  2. Set the location of a SPICE executable and the SMARTS folder: You will need to do this eventually in order to use those tools:
from solcore import config

config.spice('/path/to/the/SPICE/executable')
config.smarts('/path/to/the/SMARTS/folder')
  1. Installing S4: The rigorous-coupled wave analysis (RCWA) solver S4, created by the Stanford University, needs to be installed separately using the fork by Phoebe Pearce. The original version do not work with Python 3.x, only with Python 2. You can find more information about the solver in the project webpage. An example of its use with Solcore is included in the examples folder, Figure9.py.
  2. Getting specific information about Solcore: Even though the documentation “should” be more complete, you can get information about any object in python (including any Solcore function, module and package) using the help built-in function, for example:
from solcore import config
help(config)

Problems with the installation

There are several things that can go wrong in the above description, specially in Windows.

  1. The tests associated with the Poisson-Drift-Diffusion solver fail: This is usually the result of not having a Fortran compiler installed in your system, not being correctly configured or having a temperamental F2PY version, the tool - included in numpy - that makes Fotran code accesible from Python. Please, make sure you follow all the steps indicated in the Fortran compiler section and above to have the PDD solver up and running.
  2. Some of the dependencies fail to install: That is rarely the case, as all dependencies are in the main Python repositories. However, there might be issues with Numpy, Matplotlib and Scipy. Depending on your Python distribution, some of these packages might need to be compiled and it is often easy to get them as a scientific bundle. You can check Anaconda which provides all these packages together already configured for the correct OS.

The config_tools

This module contains all the functions that will help you to setup and configure your Solcore installation, as it has been highlighted above. The full description of the functions included in this module are:

class solcore.config_tools.SolcoreConfig(default_config: Union[pathlib.Path, str], user_config: Union[pathlib.Path, str])[source]
reset_defaults(confirm: bool = False) → None[source]

Resets the default Solcore configuration in the user home folder.

Returns:None
register_observer(section: str, callback: Callable[[str], None]) → None[source]

Registers and observer to be called when a section changes.

Parameters:
  • section – Section to observe.
  • callback – Function to execute when there are changes. It takes the name

and value of the updated/new source as inputs. :return: None

sections

Sections in the configuration file.

sources(section)[source]

Sources in each the requested section.

remove_source(section: str, name: str) → None[source]

General function to remove sources from the configuration files. It checks if the source exists and, if so, if it is a default Solcore source. In the later case, it disable the source by setting it to an empty string rather than removing it.

Parameters:
  • section – The section to remove a source from.
  • name – The name of the source.
Returns:

None

restore_default_source(section: str, name: str) → None[source]

Restores the default value of a source, assuming the source has a default value.

Parameters:
  • section – The section of the source.
  • name – The name of the source.
Returns:

None

restore_defaults() → None[source]

Restores all the default values without touching user additions.

Returns:None
version() → str[source]

Provides the Solcore version

Returns:The version number
welcome_message(show: Optional[bool] = None) → bool[source]

Sets if the welcome message must be shown or not

Parameters:show – True/False for showing/hiding the welcome message
Returns:None
verbose_loading(show: Optional[bool] = None) → bool[source]

Sets if the loading messages (besides the welcome message) must be shown or not

Parameters:show – True/False for showing/hiding the loading messages
Returns:None
spice(location: Union[pathlib.Path, str, None] = None) → str[source]

Sets or returns the location of the SPICE executable.

Parameters:location – The location of the spice executable.
Returns:The currently configured location for the executable
smarts(location: Union[pathlib.Path, str, None] = None) → str[source]

Sets or returns the location of the SMARTS executable.

Parameters:location – The location of the SMARTS distribution.
Returns:The currently configured location for the executable
units(name: Optional[str] = None, location: Union[pathlib.Path, str, None] = None) → Union[list, str][source]

Adds a Units source to Solcore or returns the value of an existing one.

If called without arguments, it returns the list of available Unit sources.

Parameters:
  • name – The name of the source.
  • location – The full path to the location of the source. The source must

be a ConfigParser formatted file. :return: The path to the source or a list of available sources

parameters(name: Optional[str] = None, location: Union[pathlib.Path, str, None] = None) → Union[list, str][source]

Adds a Parameters source to Solcore or returns the value of an existing one.

If called without arguments, it returns the list of available Parameter sources.

Parameters:
  • name – The name of the source.
  • location – The full path to the location of the source. The source must

be a ConfigParser formatted file. :return: The path to the source or a list of available sources

materials(name: Optional[str] = None, location: Union[pathlib.Path, str, None] = None) → Union[list, str][source]

Adds a Materials source to Solcore or returns the value of an existing one.

If called without arguments, it returns the list of available Material sources.

Parameters:
  • name – The name of the source.
  • location – The full path to the location of the source. The source must

be a folder containing the n and k data of the material. See the the Material System in the manual for more information. :return: The path to the source or a list of available sources