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Solar Energy:
The energy coming from sun in the form of heat and light

is called solar energy. Renewable energy Sunlight is actually a cluster of photons. The energy of a photon is given by the relation: E= h * f; Where h is planks constant and f is frequency of photon. On a bright day, the sun's rays shower approximately 1,000 watts of energy per square meter on the surface of earth

Definition of Solar Cell

Solar cell is a device which converts solar energy to

electricity. It is also called Photovoltaic cell because it operates on the principle of photoelectric effect.

Photoelectric Effect
When light strikes the surface of a solid it makes the

electrons free from the surface of solid. This phenomenon is called photoelectric effect. The material that can allow this phenomenon is called photoemissive and the ejected electrons are known as photoelectrons.

Levels of energy
Valence band
Forbidden energy band Conduction band

Levels of energy

In the case of conductors there is no energy gap

between valence energy band and conduction band (i.e. forbidden energy gap is approximately zero). So the valence electrons can easily take part in the conduction of electricity.

In the case of insulators the difference of energy

between valence band and conduction band is very large so electrons dont have much energy to cross the forbidden energy gap.

Semiconductors are intermediate between conductors

and insulators. The conductivity of semiconductors increases by increasing temperature or exciting valence electrons. The best reason for using semiconductors in most useful purposes is that we can change their conductivity by the process of adding impurities in them, called doping.

Anatomy of a solar cell

Pure silicon is a poor conductor of electricity because

unlike conductors it contains no free electrons for motion and conduction of electricity. Silicon like other semiconductors has property that its conductivity can be enhanced. For this purpose we add impurities in it. Impurity may be pantavalent or trivalent as required.

Pantavalent impurities
Pantavalent impurities are the elements which

contain five electrons in their valence shell. Pantavalent impurities are phosphorus (P), Arsenic (As), Antimony (Sb) and Bismuth (Bi).

One part of a silicon solar cell is doped with

pantavalent impurity (Phosphorus). This type of doping is called N-type doping because charge carriers in this type of doping are electrons (-ve). N-type doped silicon is much better conductor as compared with pure silicon because now free electron is available for conduction.

Trivalent impurities
Trivalent impurities are the elements which contain

three electrons in their outermost shell. Trivalent impurities are Aluminum (Al), Gallium (Ga), Indium (In) and Boron (B).

The other part of silicon is doped with trivalent

impurity (Boron) which contains three electrons in its valence shell. This type of doping is called P-type doping because in this case charge carriers are holes (+ve).

When these two parts are combined then electric field

is produced which is very necessary for proper functionality of cell. Silicon is a very shiny material so when photons strike the surface of silicon, most of them bounce back before they have done their job. To prevent from this loss the surface of cell is coated with an antireflecting coating. Cell is installed in glass cover plate in order to prevent it from elements.

On grid and Off grid Solar system:

Generally there are two ways to connect a solar system

in your house. One is that you connect your load with a solar cell and also connect it to the power grid. This setup is called On grid system. The second one is that you meet all your demands through your solar cell and there is no connection with power grid. This setup is called Off grid system.

Factors effecting functionality of solar cell:

Functionality of solar cell is much dependent on the

climate of area where it is to be installed. If the region have cloudy climate most of the time then its useless to install solar cell in that area. Another point is that sunlight must be much intense. Otherwise it will not be able to make the electrons start conduction. In case of silicon 1.1eV is required to make electron free.

Working of Solar Cell

Solar energy is always in the form of photons (energy

packets). When photons strike the solar cell, they provide energy to electrons and as a result the electron-hole pair breaks and electron and hole start to wonder freely.

If we connect an external circuit the electrons start to

flow though circuit towards P side to meet with holes

This flow of electrons provides electric current and

electric field provides voltage of the cell. Multiplying the current and voltage will provide the power of solar cell.

Solar cell produces DC power. To use this power we

should have to convert this DC into AC power. For this purpose we use inverter.

Dark current
Dark current is the current flowing through a photosensitive device in the absence of sunlight

Energy Loss in a Solar Cell:

Sun light is composed of photons of different energies

Some photons have such a lower energy that they are

even unable to separate an electron-hole pair. These just pass through the crystal like a transparent thing. But some of them have much higher energies. The energy required to separate an electron-hole pair is about 1.1eV in the case of silicon.

Whereas 1 electron volt = 1.60217646 10-19 joules.

This is called Band gap energy of a material. If a photon has more energy than band gap energy then extra energy is lost. Due to this fact we lose about 70% of our energy incident over solar cell.

As electrons have to pass through external circuit to

enter from one side to the other. So we cover the bottom of cell with metal. But if we completely cover the cell from the top with metal then photons could not be able to pass through opaque metal.

Efficiency Improvement
We can improve efficiency by using Multi-junction cells Concentrating Photovoltaic Technology.

Multi-junction cells
Using Multi-junction cells. In this type of

construction we use two or more different materials with different band gaps. We make layers of these materials in which the material having highest band gap is placed at the top and lower band gap beneath this. When sunlight strikes the surface high energy photons are absorbed by top layer and lower energy photons are absorbed by the layer beneath this. In this way we can prevent the losses of energy.

Concentrating Photovoltaic Technology

Using Concentrating Photovoltaic Technology. In

this technology we use optical instruments like mirrors and lenses. These lenses help to converge larger amount of sunlight on the surface of solar cell. This technique although increases the price but on the other hand our output is also enhanced.

The reason for high cost

The reason for high cost of a solar cell is that if we

use single crystal silicon then we have to use other materials along with this which make it costly.

How to make it cost effective:

In order to make it cost effective we can use the

following ways: We use multi-crystal silicon instead of single crystal. This will surely reduce the efficiency of solar cell but will somehow manage the cost. We use thin film solar cells. These are also not so efficient but these are simpler and cheaper. Thin film solar cell can be composed by different materials like amorphous silicon, gallium arsenide, copper indium diselinide and cadmium telluride.

How to construct a solar cell locally:

Using copper plate instead of silicon
When we heat copper plate it converts in to red

cupreous oxide, further heating will convert it in to cupric oxide. Cool it to room temperature and place in salt water In the presence of sunlight it will show a few current if measured through ammeter

Output of a solar cell:

Always output of a solar cell is D.C voltage.

In order to run our A.C load we have to convert it into

A.C For this purpose we use inverter circuit.

Problems faced by using inverters:

Generally when we use inverter circuit we doesnt

obtain a pure sinusoid. Due to this reason our A.C machines doesnt work properly and machines can be damaged

Solution for inverter circuits:

If we obtain a square wave through switches we can

extract a sine wave of our required frequency through it. The formula for a square wave is:


In order to extract a sine wave through a square wave

we apply a sharp cut filter at that frequency. I have generated a MATLAB code for it whose results are:
Squar wave generation Fourier transform of square wave 1 0.35 0.3 0.5
Amplitude Amplitude

0.25 0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05




1 time

1.5 x 10


0 -0.5

0 Frequency


1.5 1 0.5

x 10


Sine wave generation 1.2 1 0.8


x 10

Fourier transform of sine wave

0 -0.5 -1 -1.5

0.6 0.4 0.2 0 -0.5