Could solar PV cells be made out of aluminum?

  1. I don't know if this is the right forum but I'm curious. Companies are searching for alternatives like copper and zinc to make photovoltaic solar cells out of. Could aluminum ever work and be feasible, and replace current rare earth components?
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. OmCheeto

    OmCheeto 1,936
    Gold Member
    2014 Award

    I don't know how PV cells work, but I've heard that they are all semiconductor based. I don't think Aluminum is a semiconductor, so my guess is, no.
  4. OmCheeto

    OmCheeto 1,936
    Gold Member
    2014 Award

    ps. I don't think silicon is a "rare earth" element.

    Here, try this.
  5. Right. In fact, Silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust (after oxygen).
  6. Would it be possible to replace those rare earth and copper components with silicon? From what I've seen solar panels need contacts, and aluminum may not work for those because of the temperatures involved.
  7. mfb

    Staff: Mentor

    Rare earth metals are not really rare, they were just discovered in rare minerals. Cer is more abundant than lead, and all of them are more abundant than gold.

    Those metals have some unusual properties which allow transparent conductors. I don't know if that is possible with silicon (I doubt it).
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