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Photovoltaic cells are elements that constitute a photovoltaic solar module. They absorb light (photons) and transform it into electric current.

How does a photovoltaic cell work?

Only it produces very little energy. Assembled, the cells form a solar panel.

Silicon is the semiconductor material that makes up a cell. Photons that come in contact with silicon tear an electron and leave a hole that is positively charged. The principle of the photovoltaic cell is to prevent electrons and holes from recombining in order to create a potential difference and therefore a voltage.

We find photovoltaic cells on different media such as calculators, parking meters, watches or gadgets.

What are the different types of photovoltaic cells?

  • Multi-junction cells

They are composed of different layers that are able to convert different parts of the solar spectrum, which increases the rate of return. On the other hand, this type of cell is not yet commercialized.

  • Monocrystalline silicon cells

They make up monocrystalline photovoltaic panels. They are blue in color and are obtained by melting the silicon and then cutting it into thin strips. These cells deliver a very good yield and maintain a life of about 30 years. On the other hand, their price is high and their performances are not excellent under low light.

  • Polycrystalline silicon cells

These are the elements of polycrystalline solar modules. Silicon forms several crystals during its cooling. The color of the panel then has several shades of blue. Its performance is better than that of monocrystalline panels, even in low sunlight and its life is the same. Its price / quality ratio is therefore also better.

  • The amorphous silicon cells

During its transformation, the silicon releases a gas which is projected onto a glass support. His appearance is gray or brown. The cell has a lower yield than the crystalline ones in full sun. For equivalent energy production, amorphous cells need a larger area. In addition, its life is around 10 years.

Video Instruction: How do solar panels work? - Richard Komp