The Photovoltaic Solar Cell:
how it works.
Exactly how a photovoltaic solar cell generates electricity from sunshine without any moving parts is fascinating. The science involved is quite in-depth as you would imagine. The basics are presented below. For more details on any of the topics, just follow the links and you'll come to a more detailed section.
Solar Cells: The Basics
Discover the basic principles behind the operation of the photovoltaic solar cell. The concepts are made simple and the diagrams are easy to understand with no prior knowledge required.
You can also find out more about electricity, how it works with regard to voltage, current and all that business.
Solar Cells: More Details
The operation of the solar energy cell is based on the movement of electrons from two differently prepared pieces of Silicon lattice. Sunlight dislodges electrons in one area and they are pulled toward the second region producing an electrical current.
Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Solar Cells
The differences between single solar energy cell crystals and cells that are made from many smaller crystals are of cost and efficiency. Single crystal cells are more efficient but are more difficult to produce and are therefore more expensive.
A recent advance in multicrystalline technology called the string ribbon process look set to reduce the cost of panels made from this substance while retaining the high efficiency rates associated with the use of Silicon.
Thin Film and Flexible Solar Cells
The thin film solar cell is approximately 1% of the thickness of the standard crystalline cell. This makes them vastly more efficient in terms of resources required to construct them, though they do experience some degradation in their function over time.
A recent development in this area has been the printing of thin film cells. Nanosolar solar panels look set to cut the price of solar energy on a global scale.
Efficiency Rates of Current Solar Cells
Conversion rates vary between the different panel types. The solar energy efficiency of a panel type must be taken into account when considering the cost of an installation. Not all solar panels are created equal!
How Solar Cells Tie In to Mains Electricity
Solar panels produce direct current because of the way they are designed. The mains power supply uses alternating current and it is the power inverter that converts your solar panel energy into useful household electricity.
Plastic Solar Cells
Make a Solar Cell
Return from The Photovoltaic Solar Cell to the Green Planet home page for more Solar Power Facts.