In this article, you’ll learn about solar cells and their working principle, different types of solar cells, Their construction and application of solar cells. Also, download the free PDF file of this article.
Solar Cell and Types
What is Solar Cell?
In photovoltaic (PV) conversion, solar radiation falls on semi-conductor devices called solar cells which convert the sunlight directly into electricity.
A schematic diagram of a photovoltaic cell (PV-cell) or solar cell is given in the figure.
It relies on the effect that light has on the junction between two types of semiconductors called p-type and n-type. N-type has an excess of electrons and p-type has a shortage of electrons.
When a bright light shines on a cell, the energy from the light i.e. photon enables the electrons to break free from the junction between them.
This is called the photoelectric For single-crystal silicon (4 valence electrons), ‘p’ is obtained by doping silicon with boron (3 valence electrons) and is typically 1 um thick; ‘n’ is obtained by doping with arsenic or phosphorous (5 valence electrons) and is typically 800 um thick.
Types of Solar Cells
Following are the different types of solar cells used in the solar panels:
- Amorphous silicon solar cells (a-Si).
- Biohybrid solar cell.
- Buried contact solar cell.
- Cadmium telluride solar cell (Cd Te).
- Concentrated PV Cell (CVP and HCVP).
- Copper Indium Gallium selenide solar cells (CI(G)S).
- Crystalline silicon solar cell (C-Si).
- Dye-sensitised solar cell.
- Hybrid solar cell.
- Multi-junction solar cell.
- Monocrystalline solar cell.
- Nano-crystal solar cell.
- Photoelectrochemical cell.
- Solid-state solar cell.
- Thin-Film solar cell.
- Wafer based solar cells.
Working of Solar Cell
The sun’s photons strike the cell on the microthin p-side and penetrate to the junction to generate the electron-hole pairs. When the cell is connected to a load, as shown, the electrons will diffuse from n top. The direction of the current (I) is in the opposite direction of the electrons.
Typically voltage-current characteristics are shown in the figure at two different solar radiation levels, for each of which Voc = open-circuit voltage, Isc = short-circuit current. The ideal power of the cell is Vo.Isc. The maximum useful power is the area of the largest rectangle that can be formed under the I-V curve.
If the voltage and current corresponding to this situation is denoted by Vm and I’m and then the maximum useful power is VmIm. The ratio of the maximum useful power to the ideal power is called the full factor (k). Typical values of these factors for a silicon cell are:
Voc = 450 to 400 mV; Ioc = 30 to 50 mA/cm2, K = 0.65 to 0.80.
Solar cells in the form of thin films or wafers convert from 3% to less than 30% of incident solar energy into d.c. electricity. The connection of such cells into series-parallel configurations permits the design of solar panels with high voltages as high as several kilovolts.
Combined with energy storage and power-conditioning equipment, these cells can be used as an integral part of a complete solar-electric conversion system.
Applications of Solar Cells
There are many practical applications for the use of solar panels or photovoltaic. It is first used in agriculture as a power source for irrigation. In health care, solar panels can be used to refrigerate medical supplies. PV modules are utilized in photovoltaic systems and include a large type of electric devices:
Following are the different list of applications of solar cells:
- Photovoltaic power stations.
- Rooftop solar PV systems.
- Standalone PV systems.
- Solar hybrid power systems.
- Concentrated photovoltaics.
- Solar panels.
- In solar pumped lasers.
- Solar vehicles.
- Used in solar panels on space crafts and space stations.
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