What is Solar cell: Definition and 114 Discussions

A solar cell, or photovoltaic cell, is an electrical device that converts the energy of light directly into electricity by the photovoltaic effect, which is a physical and chemical phenomenon. It is a form of photoelectric cell, defined as a device whose electrical characteristics, such as current, voltage, or resistance, vary when exposed to light. Individual solar cell devices are often the electrical building blocks of photovoltaic modules, known colloquially as solar panels. The common single junction silicon solar cell can produce a maximum open-circuit voltage of approximately 0.5 to 0.6 volts.Solar cells are described as being photovoltaic, irrespective of whether the source is sunlight or an artificial light. In addition to producing energy, they can be used as a photodetector (for example infrared detectors), detecting light or other electromagnetic radiation near the visible range, or measuring light intensity.
The operation of a photovoltaic (PV) cell requires three basic attributes:

The absorption of light, generating either electron-hole pairs or excitons.
The separation of charge carriers of opposite types.
The separate extraction of those carriers to an external circuit.In contrast, a solar thermal collector supplies heat by absorbing sunlight, for the purpose of either direct heating or indirect electrical power generation from heat. A "photoelectrolytic cell" (photoelectrochemical cell), on the other hand, refers either to a type of photovoltaic cell (like that developed by Edmond Becquerel and modern dye-sensitized solar cells), or to a device that splits water directly into hydrogen and oxygen using only solar illumination.
Photovoltaic cells and solar collectors are the two means of producing solar power.

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  1. J

    I Trying to understand the inner workings of a solar cell

    I understand the basics but one thing sticks out in my mind which I cant make sense of, on the N side there are alot of electrons just sitting there like a gas (presumably with 0 net charge) held back by the internal electric field at the junction, and when light strikes the cell there are many...
  2. cemtu

    Engineering Shunt Resistor, Grain Boundaries & Solar Cell Circuit

    In the circuit equivalent of a solar cell, shunt resistor is described as "The irregular polycrystalline lattice grain boundaries that resist to the flow of electrical current in the silicon material." If this explanation is correct, shouldn't it be "lower shunt resistance increases the current...
  3. yecko

    Engineering Can the efficiency of a solar cell with a single band gap reach 100%?

    I have tried looking up online with the photoelectric effect, it just mentioned the energy of the photon must have to equal to band-gap energy. Yet, it didn't mention if 100% can be reached in that case, or if a single bandgap makes any effect...
  4. Whipley Snidelash

    Cheapest, easiest solar cell manufacturing methods on the Moon

    If I wanted to create a factory, possibly automated, on the moon using materials from the surface to create silicon solar cells how hard would it be? Considering the environment, the cheapest and simplest solar cell, regardless of efficiency, would be what to use because quantity and area of...
  5. patric44

    The fill factor of a solar cell

    hi guys for a solar cell i know that the fill factor is given by the following relation : $$ FF = \frac{Vm*Im}{Voc*Isc}$$ but when solving the following example : the book used the following relation in the problem?! : where this Ln relation came from ?
  6. S

    Engineering Light absorption in a semiconductor

    The doped a-Si: H layers in a HIT solar cell do not contribute to the photocurrent. The light they absorb (according to their absorption curve below) is lost. For a doped a-Si: H layer at the front side of the cell that is 25nm thick, what percentage of light at 400nm will be lost due to...
  7. J

    Is my understanding of the working principle of a solar cell correct?

    1. Photons having enough energy to transmit an electron from the conduction band to the valence band must fall on the solar cell. 2. The cell is composed of a flat PN diode with the n-type layer on top. 3. As photons hit the n-layer, electrons and holes get formed. 4. Due to the voltage barrier...
  8. J

    Solar heat gain on a typical solar cell

    what will be the joules per meter using thermal gain and wattage gain from a solar cell if the cell is in an insulative vacuum not counting the thermal degredation of 25% for wattage loss due to heat gain
  9. Q

    Solar cell absorption efficiency in COMSOL Multiphysics

    Hi. I am studying the effect of plasmonic nanoparticles on solar cells. Is there a way to calculate absorption efficiency in different layers of tandem solar cells in COMSOL Multiphysics.
  10. Mayan Fung

    Perovskite solar cell J-V scan

    Hi all, I am working on perovskite solar cell related studies. J-V curve (current density-voltage curve) is one of the important measurements to determine the performance of the device. In practice, we perform the reverse scan first then then followed by the forward scan. There is usually a...
  11. The Path to Perovskite on Silicon PV | Prof. Henry Snaith

    The Path to Perovskite on Silicon PV | Prof. Henry Snaith

    In this interview, Prof. Henry Snaith (University of Oxford) discusses the present status and future prospects of perovskite PV. Article: https://scivpro.com/manuscript/10_32386_scivpro_000004/
  12. J

    Making perovskite solar cell crystals w/o heating

    I'm a high schooler involved in a research in which we aim to grow perovskite crystals in microgravity. I've recently come across this article (https://scitechdaily.com/researchers-develop-a-better-method-for-making-perovskite-solar-cells/) in which they explain how to grow better perovskite...
  13. Mayan Fung

    Degradation of crystalline silicon solar cells

    Hi there, it is commonly accepted that the lifespan of crystalline silicon solar cells is about 20-30years. And they define the lifespan as when the solar cells efficiency drop to about lower than 10%. However, what are the possible reasons for the degradation? I can only find research papers...
  14. H

    Understanding solar cell band diagram

    Hi everyone, I have been studying the physics of solar cells for a long time. The only thing that I can not completely understand is the physical operation of solar cell based on band diagram. Can anyone briefly explain the movements of carriers from one electrode to the another based on band...
  15. D

    Solar Cell Problem(semiconductor)

    Homework Statement Homework Equations Voc=kt/q x ln(tpXGlXNd/(ni)2) Isc=A x q x Lp x Gl Lp=√(Dp×tp) FF=Pma/(Isc*Voc) The Attempt at a Solution I got Voc=.298 V and Isc=3.04 mA I]However, I am confused as to how to find the fill factor. I know it is the maximum voltage and current the load...
  16. B

    How do solar cells generate current from pn-junctions?

    Looking for a practical description. I have a feeling I am grossly misunderstanding something fundamental about electric circuits and apologize if my questions are confusing because of it. I have these two sources: acs hyperphysics My (probably naive) understanding of the process is as...
  17. A

    I What is the main role of doping in a solar cell?

    Is doping only to form an electric field in depletion region? Somehow I'm confused as far as I'm reading right now, the doping-generated carrier never discussed its role in the solar cell (other than leaving the ion and causing an electric field). Is not the number of carriers generated by...
  18. S

    Voltage output of a photodiode (solar cell)

    Hi, I'm trying to figure out how the angle of incidence will affect the voltage output of a photodiode. The obvious answer that comes to my mind is that the voltage output should be proportional to the cos(α), where α is the angle of incidence of light. However, I couldn't find any...
  19. W

    Thermodynamic cycle of a solar cell

    Mechanical Engineering Undergrad here: So this didn't seem explicitly like a homework question, but I was wondering how to describe a solar cell in terms of thermodynamics. If I had to model it with the first law of thermodynamics, I would consider it a simple loop of heat/work exchange...
  20. D

    Engineering Chemical vs Mechanical Engineering

    I am a high school senior caught between these two fields. they both seem very exciting and I am not sure which would be better suited for my interests. In high school, my favorite subjects have been Physics, Chemistry, and Computer Science. I am interested in working to develop: -more...
  21. hikari1987

    Joule heating in internal resistances of a solar cell

    Hi , How can I calculate the resistive heating occurring in the internal resistances of a solar cell ? Are ohm's law or the power dissipation relation P=RI2 applicable in this case ? if not the case how can we calculate the resistive heating there? Thank you in advance for your help
  22. Clara Chung

    Question about solar cell construction

    Why must we place the anti-reflection glass on top of the n type semiconductor? ( Why must the sun light incident on the n type semiconductor? )
  23. P

    Solar Cell Current increases as Resistance increases Problem

    Hi everyone, so I'm trying to achieve IV curves based on how this website had done below: http://www.voltaicsystems.com/blog/solar-charger-tutorial-part-2/ But whenever I increase the resistance, the amperage increases rather than decreases! For example, when I use a 500 ohm resistor the...
  24. S

    Finding series and shunt resistance of solar cell

    Hi, I am trying to find out series and shunt resistance of solar cell from I-V curve which starts from Isc and going to Voc. I read some papers and for single illumination mostly said Rs= -(dv/dI)V=Voc and Rsh= -(dv/dI)I=Isc. so I am finidng Rs from slope between points from Vmax to Voc, and...
  25. E

    B Solar cell educational graphics - review for possible errors

    Hi, Jake here. I've created some graphics about solar cells that covers high level, general info and even delves into some atomic-level subjects. However, I'm no physicist and I'm sure it shows. If any of you could take a quick look at my work and review for errors, that would be awesome. My...
  26. C

    Capacitor charging above solar cell voltage?

    This has been confusing me a lot lately. I built a type of battery derived from a solar cell that outputs a constant voltage of 0.5 Volts. My original plan was to work out a method to boost this voltage to around 1V to power a joule thief and light an LED using a capacitor charged by the cell...
  27. S

    What determines generated voltage and current in solar cell?

    I know illumination, bandgap of the material, temperature, quantum efficiency all have an effect on the current and voltage of a solar cell. But what about the doping, and the generation and concentration of charge carriers? A semiconductor can only generate a finite number of charge carriers...
  28. S

    Role of Quantum Mechanics and Thermodynamics in solar cell?

    What is the role of Quantum Mechanics and Thermodynamics in solar cell operation? Is quantum mechanics the photovolatic effect, and thermodynamics the cell efficiency?
  29. S

    Solar Cell I-V measurement

    What equipment is needed for illuminated I-V measurements of a solar cell? light source, 2 multimeters light source, 2 multimeters, variable resistor, voltage source light source of variable intensity, 2 multimeters, irradiance meter Light source, 2 multimeters, variable resistor PV analyser...
  30. S

    Irradiance and Isc and Voc of a solar cell

    When irradiance increases what happens to open circuit voltage and short circuit current of a solar cell? Do they both increase linearly? Because temperature affects open circuit voltage, so I'd assume open circuit voltage doesn't increase linearly then...
  31. S

    Current in a solar cell when temperature increases?

    What happens to current in a solar cell when temperature increases? I found two sources with different information. 1) As solar panel temperature increases, its output current increases exponentially while the voltage output is reduced linearly.' 2) Whereas, this second website says short...
  32. mishima

    Modulated Laser on Solar Cell

    Hi, we set up a cheap laser pointer bouncing off a mirror that was hot-glued onto a balloon stretched over the end of a coffee can. The reflected light hit a cheap 3x5 solar cell that was plugged into a stereo's microphone jack. A person could speak into the can and their voice would be heard...
  33. H

    B Roads as solar cell collectors

    Thought this was interesting. Wonder if it will be profitable enough to upscale. http://www.fastcoexist.com/1681562/solar-roads-charging-roads-and-the-future-of-transportation
  34. Physicist50

    Solar Cells & Refractive Index

    Hi there, I have recently been researching in depth solar cells/panels, the parameters of their efficiency and the photoelectric effect in general, specifically how different wavelengths of light affect it. My research has yielded a few facts; that the efficiency of standard silicon solar cells...
  35. F

    Solar thermal collectors in parallel

    I am using TRYNSYS software to simulate solar thermal cooling. I need to install many solar thermal panels (evacuated tubes) in parallel. However, there is no feature to do that automatically in the software; so I can only add them manually with complex piping and stuff. So my question is: Is...
  36. Corwin_S

    Maximum Built-In Voltage of a PN junction

    Hi, I'm familiar with the expression for calculating the built-in voltage of a p-n junction. How can I find the maximum built-in voltage before the semiconductor becomes degenerate (i.e., a bad metal) if I only know the material and the intrinsic carrier concentration at a given temperature...
  37. S

    Current limit through solar cell (forward bias)

    How much current can be forced through a photovoltaic (solar) cell before its performance starts to deteriorate? In certain accelerated lifetime testing 1.25xIsc is forced through a solar module while it sits inside a chamber (no incident light). Is there a theoretical limit to the amount of...
  38. S

    Desired properties for a solar cell

    Elements like Silicon, Germanium and Gallium can be used to make solar cells but platinum can not be used. What is the exact reason? Is it related to threshold frequency? Tried to search for the answer through many sources, but couldn't get a satisfactory one. Your views and answers are really...
  39. G

    Cut Mini Solar Cell? | Physics Forums

    Hey physics forums Do you know if you can cut this mono crystalline solar cell in half: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ISVLPN4/?tag=pfamazon01-20
  40. E

    Efficiency calculation for solar cells

    Homework Statement Hi! I have a problem with the following problem: Calculate the efficiency of the solar cells with the characteristics given in the table below Power (28 degrees, BOL): 300 W/m2 Absorptance: <91 , emittance: >82. Reliability: 0.999 . Mass: 2 kg Homework Equations I know...
  41. W

    Solar cell interference filter

    Homework Statement See attached image, assignment a) Homework EquationsThe Attempt at a Solution Using ordinary trigonometry, I got simply $$\Delta = sin(\theta_i) 2 d tan(\theta_t) n_{air} - 2n_{oxide} d/cos(\theta_t)$$. However, even if I apply Snell's law, it's not the answer I'm supposed to...
  42. E

    Making a solar cell phone charger

    Good day everyone, So I have a spare solar panel that has been laying around and I want to put it to use. Its a small panel, about 8"X12". The specs read 8 Watts and 17 Volts I was thinking of maybe making a solar charger for phones and other 5VDC USB devices. I bought a 5VDC regulator kit...
  43. N

    How to calculate solar cell efficiency with data in dark?

    Hi mates, I have to find solar cell efficiency by datas that given. These datas comes from an experiment in light and in dark. I found efficiency in light by square method with IV curve. But i don't know how to find in dark. The square method doesn't work cos data crossing the origin, no area to...
  44. nsaspook

    Blu-ray disc can be used to improve solar cell performance

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141125111816.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fmatter_energy%2Fsolar_energy+%28Solar+Energy+News+--+ScienceDaily%29 Pretty cool use of a mass produced product but how much do you think a Chuck Norris disk...
  45. Y

    Hot spot heating of solar cell

    As I know, when a string of solar cells connected in series, if one of the cell is shaded, it will be reverse bias due to current mismatch and the voltage can be very high, say, 20V. But in short circuit condition, the overall voltage should be zero, if other cells are in forward bias, how can...
  46. D

    Using solar cell as a power laser meter

    The current and the voltgate from solar cell are verry small, so can i add a amplicifer circuit? And How add?
  47. B

    Question on powering a solar cell display with artificial light

    Hey folks, Sorry if this is a boring topic or if it's posted in not the best subject but here goes. I'm working on a solar-power related project and will have a display set up indoors. The cells are rated at up to 10V and 150mA. Under ambient artificial light we can get the voltage...
  48. S

    Silicon reflecting solar cell

    Hello I am trying to fabricate a Si reflecting solar cell. When a Solar cell is exposed to radiation and connected to external circuit, the current will start to flow through the circuit. So I want to know how does the Reflectivity of silicon change with the current( or conductance).[...
  49. V

    Short circuit current of a Schottky diode solar cell

    Hi everyone, I am working with a solar cell realized with a metal-semiconductor junction. I need to find an expression for the short circuit current of this solar cell, but in the literature I have only found models for the standard case of a pn junction solar cell. Does anyone know a...
  50. N

    Working of Photovoltaic Device (Solar Cell)

    In the following http://electrons.wikidot.com/solar-cells it mentioned that how and when n-side becomes positive?