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Solar panels have been hailed as a viable alternative energy source for decades, and they help to keep spacecraft fueled. However, how do solar panels function? They are made up of several solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells (PV), that collect sunlight and convert it to energy. Simply explained, residential solar in Jacksonville generates energy by enabling photons, or light particles, to knock electrons loose from cells.
Each photovoltaic cell is essentially a sandwich made up of two slices of semi-conducting material, often silicon, which is also used in microelectronic devices.
How Silicon Wafers Power Solar Panels
What Are Solar Panels and How Do They Work?
When photons collide with atoms in a solar cell, they knock electrons loose. An electrical circuit is formed when conductors are connected to the positive and negative sides of a cell. When electrons move across a circuit like this, electricity is generated. A solar panel is made up of numerous cells, and many panels (circuits) can be connected to form a solar array. The more solar panels you install, the more electricity you’ll create.
What are the Materials Used in Solar Panels?
Solar panels with photovoltaic (PV) technology are made up of several solar cells packaged in various types of glass. Solar cells, like semiconductors, are constructed of silicon. They’re made up of a positive and negative layer that work together to form an electric field, exactly like a battery.
What Is the Process of Making Solar Cells?
Silicon is the same material that microchip transistors (small switches) are built of, and solar cells function in a similar way. Silicon is a semiconductor, which is a type of material. Conductors are materials that allow electricity to flow freely through them, particularly metals.
Other materials, such as plastics and wood, act as insulators, preventing electricity from flowing through them. Semiconductors, such as silicon, are neither conductors nor insulators: they do not ordinarily carry electricity, but we can make them do so under particular conditions.
A solar cell is a sandwich made up of two layers of silicon that have been processed or doped in a certain way to allow energy to flow through them in a specific way. Because the bottom layer is doped, it contains a small number of electrons. Because electrons are negatively charged and this layer contains too few of them, it’s called p-type or positive-type silicon.
The higher layer is doped in the opposite direction, resulting in a minor overabundance of electrons. It’s known as n-type silicon, or negative-type silicon.
Solar cells function in the following way:
- Photons (light particles) bombard the top surface of the cell when sunlight shines on it.
- Photons transport energy down the cell membrane.
- In the bottom, p-type layer, photons give up their energy to electrons (green blobs).
- This energy is used by the electrons to pass the barrier into the top, n-type layer and escape into the circuit.
- The electrons flow around the circuit, causing the bulb to light up.
How Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?
Direct current power is generated using PV solar panels. Electrons move in one direction around a circuit using direct current electricity. A light bulb is powered by a battery in this scenario. The electrons travel from the negative side of the battery to the positive side after passing through the light.
Electrons are pushed and pulled in alternating current electricity, reversing direction frequently, much like the cylinder in a car’s engine. When a coil of wire is spun near to a magnet, a generator produces alternating current power. This generator may be powered by a variety of energy sources, including gas or diesel fuel, hydroelectricity, nuclear, coal, wind, or solar energy.
Electrical power networks, which run throughout the country and power thousands of houses, employ alternating current electricity. Solar panels, on the other hand, generate direct current power. An inverter is used to convert direct current power into alternating current electricity.
Photovoltaic Solar Cell Types
Most solar cells on people’s roofs nowadays are simply silicon sandwiches that have been specifically processed to improve their electrical conductivity. These traditional solar cells are referred to as first-generation by scientists to distinguish them from two other, more recent technologies known as second and third generation. So, what’s the difference between the two?
Silicon wafers are used in the first generation of solar cells. This form of solar cell is the most frequently used and manufactured in the world, as well as having the greatest single-cell efficiencies observed. Because silicon solar cells are expensive to manufacture, research has led to the development of a new generation of solar cells that are not made of silicon.
You’ve probably seen a solar cell based on thin-film technology or second-generation PV cell if you’ve used a sun-powered calculator. Clearly, a calculator’s little cell is not large and cumbersome.
One or more thin layers of photovoltaic materials are put onto a substrate to make up a thin-film solar panel. A typical silicon solar panel can be almost 300 times smaller than these thin layers with several light absorption layers. Thin-film solar panels are the lightest panels available because of the size of the photovoltaic cells employed with built-in semi-conductors.
The most recent technologies combine the advantages of first and second generation cells. These, like first generation cells, offer excellent efficiency 30 percent or more. They’re more likely than second generation cells to be built of materials other than “ordinary” silicon, such as amorphous silicon, organic polymers (for organic photovoltaics), and perovskite crystals.
Production of Solar Cells
Manufacturers purify silicon using the float zone process, which involves passing an impure silicon rod through a heated zone several times in the same direction. The contaminants are drawn toward one end with each pass until the silicon is totally purified.
Single-Crystal Silicon Production
To make the boule, the Czochralski process requires dipping the silicon seed crystal into molten polycrystalline silicon. During the process, the seed crystal is removed and rotated to remove any imperfections and make a pure cylindrical ingot or boule.
Silicon Wafer Manufacturing
The boule is sliced into circular silicon wafers using a circular saw. To make the most of the available area on the solar cell’s surface, these wafers are sliced into rectangular or hexagonal forms. Furthermore, the wafers are flawlessly polished.
During the doping process, impurities are purposely injected into the intrinsic semiconductor to vary its optical, electrical, and structural characteristics.
Placement of Electrical Contacts
Solar cells employ electrical connections to connect to the receiver of the generated electricity. The cell will not be able to capture any sunlight unless these connections are made incredibly thin. Thin strips of tin-coated copper are inserted between cells after the electrical connections are placed on the exposed parts of the cells.
Application of an Anti-Reflective Coating
To reduce the amount of sunlight lost when pure silicon reflects it, a titanium dioxide or silicon oxide anti-reflective coating is applied to the silicon wafer.
Encapsulation of Solar Cells
Before being fitted onto an aluminum frame with a Tedlar or Mylar back-sheet and a plastic or glass cover, the final solar cells are sealed with ethylene vinyl acetate or silicon rubber.
Interested in Switching to Residential Solar in Jacksonville?
We all know that harnessing the power of the sun with solar panels is a clean, efficient, and cost-effective way to power your home or business. Solar energy, on the other hand, is here to stay, and the longer you delay maintaining your solar panels, the more money and energy you’ll waste.
At SuperGreen Solutions, we emphasize your concerns while also taking into account the potential environmental effect of technology. Please contact us as soon as possible, and we will be pleased to assist you in any way we can!