What is a Solar Cell?

Solar cells can be found almost anywhere, from calculators, children's toys, torches and satellites etc. Solar cells are also called photovoltaic (PV) cells, photo meaning "light" and voltaic meaning "electricity", which generate electricity directly from visible light by means of the photovoltaic effect.

A group of PV cells connected electrically and placed into a frame is called a module (or a solar panel), which can then be grouped into larger groups of modules to form a solar array.

Photovoltaic cells are made of semiconductors such as silicon, which is most commonly used. When light strikes the cell, a portion of it is absorbed within the semiconductor material; the energy of the absorbed light is transferred to the semiconductor. The transferred energy then knocks electrons loose, allowing them to flow freely.

PV cells have electric fields that force electrons freed by light absorption to flow in a certain direction. This flow of electrons is an electric current; when the metal contacts are placed on the top and bottom of the PV cell, it allows us to draw the current off for external use.

  1. What is a Solar Cell?
  2. How Silicon Makes a Solar Cell
  3. Anatomy of a Solar Cell
  4. The Three Types of Solar Cells.
  5. How Do Solar Inverters Work?


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