After watching solar panels, people usually think, what technology do solar cells use to turn light into energy? The answer is Solar Photovoltaics Technology.
Photovoltaics Technology gets its name from the process of converting light to electricity, which is called the photovoltaic effect. This phenomenon was first exploited in 1954 by scientists at Bell Laboratories who created a working solar cell made out of silicon that generated an electric current when exposed to sunlight. Solar cells were soon used by space and other smaller items like calculators, watches, etc.
Today, electricity from solar panels has become cost-competitive in many regions and photovoltaic systems are being deployed at large scales.
Silicon Solar Cells
Silicon is the most common material used in today’s solar cells. Silicon offers both reasonable prices and good efficiency, making it an affordable option for those looking to take advantage of renewable energy sources like wind or sunlight. Solar panels are either installed on residential buildings’ roofs or mounted onto ground-based racks that continuously collect power from all angles during daylight hours. These systems have been known to produce as much as 5 million watts!
Thin-Film Solar Cells
Another commonly used photovoltaic technology is known as thin-film solar cells. The thin-film solar cells are made from very thin layers of semiconductor material that is as small as a few micrometers. These cells allow for an efficient and cost-effective way to produce sustainable energy using the sun’s light.
Thin-film solar cells are flexible and lightweight, meaning that they can work in places where traditional silicon panels cannot. They also have a lower energy cost to produce than the more expensive type of panel which means that we could use them for windows on buildings or any other structure with open space such as soldiers’ backpacks!
III-V Solar Cells
A third type of photovoltaic technology is named after the elements that compose them. III-V solar cells are mainly constructed from Group III—e.g., gallium and indium—and Group V, e.g., arsenic and antimony. They provide much higher efficiency than other technologies due to their increased manufacturing costs and more durable properties as they convert sunlight into electrical energy at high ratios.
Next-Generation Solar Cells
The solar cell researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are not stopping there. They’re also researching other next-generation PV technologies like organic cells, quantum dots, and hybrid materials perovskites in an effort to make low-cost renewable energy more readily accessible for everyone.