Aug 3, 2016

The Basic Science of Photovoltaics

Solar panels in the Philippines should be easy to come across–we receive so much sun! However, even though most people know what these solar panels do, not many know how they work. Here’s a little lesson on how these solar cells gather precious energy from the Earth’s closest star, the sun.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity, but how exactly does it do that? Sunlight is made up of photons, particles which transmit light over space. When sunlight shines on a solar cell or panel, photons either get reflected, absorbed, or pass through the cell.

These solar cells are made up of many things to be able to do what they do. One thing that allows them to absorb energy from the sun is silicon. Silicon is a very good conductor, but before it does its part in the cells, the silicon has to be combined with other things such as phosphorus and boron. Phosphorus adds a negative charge to a layer in the cell while the boron lessens the electrons in another layer which results in a positive charge.

The photons, when enough is absorbed in the cells, knock off or free any loose electrons and these electrons are then herded together to create a electric current. To be able to collect these electrons and create a flow of electricity, an electrical imbalance is created in the cell, which is made by the silicon mixed with other elements. There are two types of this silicon, one is called the n-type which has extra electrons, and the other is p-type, which has less electrons. This means that there are missing particles in both types of silicon.

When these two silicone types are placed together in a cell, the extra electrons in the n-type silicon transfer to the p-type silicon which means that the both types of silicon become reverse charged, and this creates an electric field. The semi-conductor properties of the silicon allow the solar cells to maintain this imbalance.

The photons then kick the electrons off the silicon and the electrons are herded off, creating an electric current. Other components of the cell, such as conductive plates, transfer the electricity to the wires where the electricity is brought somewhere it can be stored, or can be used to power the devices they are connected to such as calculators, satellites in orbit, or even small gadgets such as fans, path lights, and the like.

There is a lot of things going on in a solar cell we that we don’t know about. This is just the gist of the work and the effort it takes for people who make these amazing pieces of technology. Because these solar cells are made of materials that are abundant, and because they gather electricity from another abundant (and potentially infinite) source of energy, solar energy production is environmentally friendly as they don’t burn any fuel. They also have no moving part, which means that they’re maintenance free, and don’t produce any noise pollution. 

Note: Do you want to know some affordable options that you can consider to benefit from going solar? This best solar panels guide will help you a lot. 

About the Blogger
Sue Ann Reyes is a hard working young professional by day and a Writer by night. She writes with style and sophistication. Passion and Imagination brings the best of her. Lifestyle, Food and Travelling is some of her interests.

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