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Solar Cells

Solar Cells

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Published by Prithvi Harve

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Published by: Prithvi Harve on Feb 21, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Introduction:  Photovoltaic cells or solar cells are the devices used in photovoltaic conversion i. it is converted directly into dc electricity. The first solar cell was built by Charles Fritts. when solar radiation falls on these devices.e. who coated the semiconductor selenium with an extremely thin layer of gold to form the junctions. .

.Advantages:    No moving parts. and work quite satisfactorily with beam or diffuse radiation. Readily adapted for varying power requirements. Environmentally friendly source of electricity. require little maintenance.

n-type silicon and a junction. Back metal electrode. . Metal electrodes (Ti-Ag solder).Description:    Single crystal silicon cell. Anti-reflection coating and a thin transparent encapsulating sheet on the top surface. Front metal electrode. p-type.

.Solar Module:  In order to obtain higher  voltages and currents. individual cells are fixed side by side on a suitable back-up board and connected in series and parallel to form a module or solar panel In turn a number of PV modules are interconnected to form an array.

. Energy bands-valence and conduction bands. Semiconductor materials. Band gap energy. Electron-hole pairs. Photons of sunlight.Principle of working of a solar cell: (1)      Creation of pairs of positive and negative charges (electrons-hole pairs) in the solar cell by absorbed solar radiation.

. Energy levels. flow of direct electric current.   Electron-hole pair. jump in energy levels. Separated if potential gradient exists. n-type_silicon doped with phosphorous.(2) Separation of the positive and negative charges by a potential gradient within the cell. Obtained by sandwiching of p-type & n-type silicon. Existence of potential gradient. p-type_silicon doped with boron.

Fill factor: Another defining term in the overall behavior of a solar cell is the fill factor (FF). Energy conversion efficiency: The maximum conversion efficiency of a solar cell is given by the ratio of the maximum useful power to the incident solar radiation. that is. This is the ratio of the maximum power point divided by the open circuit voltage (Voc) and the short circuit current (Isc). . Vm x Im = Pm in watts. By increasing the resistive load on an irradiated cell continuously from zero (a short circuit) to a very high value (an open circuit) one can determine the maximum-power point. the load for which the cell can deliver maximum electrical power at that level of irradiation.Efficiency factors: (1) (2) (3) Maximum power point: A solar cell may operate over a wide range of voltages (V) and currents (I).

Most monocrystalline panels have uncovered gaps at the corners of four cells. Efficiency is a ratio of the electric power output to the light power input. Sunpower and Shell Solar are among the main manufacturers of this type of cells. they cannot completely cover a module without a substantial waste of refined silicon. and because they are cut from cylindrical ingots. Crystalline silicon solar cells come in three primary categories: Single crystal or monocrystalline wafers: Most commercial monocrystalline cells have efficiencies on the order of 14%.efficiency and cost.Materials and efficiency:  Various materials have been investigated for solar cells. . the SunPower cells have high efficiencies around 20%. There are two main criteria . By far the most common material for solar cells is crystalline silicon. Single crystal cells tend to be expensive.

and this compensates for their lower efficiencies. Ribbon silicon formed by drawing flat thin films from molten silicon and has a multicrystalline structure. but also somewhat less efficient. they can easily be formed into square shapes that cover a greater fraction of a panel than monocrystalline cells.large crucibles of molten silicon carefully cooled and solidified. These cells are typically the least efficient. in each of the above approaches. but there is a cost savings since there is very little silicon waste since this approach does not require sawing from ingots. These cells are cheaper than single crystal cells. These technologies are wafer based manufacturing.Poly or multi crystalline made from cast ingots . . However. self supporting wafers of ~300 micrometres thick are fabricated and then soldered together to form a module. In other words.

CIS stands for general chalcopyrite films of copper indium selenide (CuInSe2) While these films can achieve 11% efficiency. . amorphous silicon films are deposited onto crystalline silicon wafers. typically plasma enhanced (PE-CVD). The entire module substrate is coated with the desired layers and a laser scribe is then used to delineate individual cells. their costs are still too high. Thin film approaches are module based. For example. In this technology. These cells have low efficiencies around 8%. Two main thin film approaches are amorphous silicon and CIS: Amorphous silicon films are fabricated using chemical vapor deposition techniques. Sanyo has pioneered the HIT cell. There are additional materials and approaches.

50/Wp or more. state. Federal. and probably higher in places with less experience. So on the low side. Additional installation costs for a residential rooftop retrofit in California (CA) is around $3.50 to $5.00/Wp range. installed system costs are about $7. utility.00/Wp in CA. So CA rule of thumb is that the installed system PV will cost you at the low end.Cost analysis:  The US retail module costs are in the $3.50/Wp. $3. and other subsidies combined pay about half the cost. .

if possible. . Significant cost reduction is achieved by the use of concentrators to focus the sunlight on high efficiency solar cells. which speed up the production process. The concentration is achieved by using either linear or circular Fresnel lenses or parabolic or paraboloid concentrators which focus along a line or at a point.Cost reduction:    Developing innovative manufacturing techniques (like the EFG process). reduce material wastage & yield large size cells. use material which is inherently inexpensive. Development of thin film solar devices which require much less material and. For example Cadmium sulphide-cadmium telluride and Copper Indium Diselenide solar cells. concentration ratios ranging from 10 to 1000 being used.

and hence have lifetimes which are far too short to be viable. Another approach is to significantly reduce the amount of raw material used in the manufacture of solar cells. The various thinfilm technologies currently being developed make use of this approach to reducing the cost of electricity from solar cells. Much of the research is focussed on making solar cells cheaper and/or more efficient. One way of doing this is to develop cheaper methods of obtaining silicon that is sufficiently pure. so that they can more effectively compete with other energy sources. However. Silicon is a very common element. .Current research: There are currently many research groups active in the field of photovoltaics at universities and research institutions around the world. including fossil energy. but is normally bound in silica sand. The invention of conductive polymers may lead to the development of much cheaper cells that are based on inexpensive plastics. rather than semiconductor grade silicon. all organic solar cells made to date suffer from degradation upon exposure to UV light.

(1) (2) . photovoltaic systems are being used increasingly to supply electricity for many applications requiring small amounts of power. Telecommunication for the post and telegraph and railway communication network.Applications: In spite of the high initial cost. Their cost-effectiveness increases with the distance of the location (where they are to be installed) from the main power grid lines. In addition. in developed countries solar cells are being used extensively in consumer products and applications. Some applications for which PV systems have been developed are. Pumping water for irrigation and drinking and electrification for remote villages for providing street lighting and other community services.

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