Photovoltaic cell or a solar cell is an electronic
device that can convert the sunís rays or solar energy
into electricity through photovoltaic effect.
Photovoltaic refers to the field of technology related
to the application of solar cells as solar energy.
Photovoltaic cells create electricity directly from the
the photons derived from the sunlight strike a solar
cell, some of it go away, reflected by its surface but
some also get absorbed within it. These absorbed protons
provide energy to help generate electricity. When
adequate sunlight is absorbed by the semiconductor, i.e.
the silicone material, electrons from the materialís
atoms get dislodged. As the especially designed frontal
surface of the material is more receptive to the free
electrons, they migrate to the surface en masse.
too many electrons, each carrying a negative charge
starts traveling towards the frontal surface, the
imbalance of charge between the siliconeís front
and rear creates a voltage potential similar to the
negative and positive terminals of a battery. If at that
point of time these two are connected through an
external load, electricity flows through them.
of the photovoltaic cell
The first photovoltaic cell
originated in 1954 when Bell Laboratory scientists
Gerald Pearson, Daryl Chapin and Calvin Fuller developed
the first silicon solar cell which was capable of
generating a measurable volume of electricity solely out
Photovoltaic cells are now classified
into three generations that are described below.
The first generation cells are single
junction devices that are neither cost efficient nor
productive. In fact, the first generation solar cells
have rather poor cost parity with fossil fuel energy
generation (33%). They also cover larger area as
compared to later generation cells. Besides, they were
expensive, too because of the labor input involved in
The second generation solar cells
have been made out of materials that have helped
reduction in manufacturing cost. Alternative
manufacturing technique like use of vapor deposition and
electroplating has further helped production by way of
avoiding high temperature processing significantly. The
most successful second generation materials have been
cadmium telluride (CdTe), copper indium gallium
selenide, amorphous silicon and micromorphous silicon
These materials are applied in a thin film to a
supporting substrate such as glass or ceramics reducing
material mass and therefore costs. These technologies do
hold promise of higher conversion efficiencies,
particularly CIGS-CIS, DSC and CdTe offers significantly
cheaper production costs.
The third generation technologies aim
at improving the poor electrical performance of the
second generation cells while maintaining low production
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