Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells

Among all kinds of solar cells we describe silicon solar cells only, for they are the most widely used. Their efficiency is limited due to several factors. The energy of photons decreases at higher wavelengths. The highest wavelength when the energy of photon is still big enough to produce free electrons is 1.15 μm (valid for silicon only). Radiation with higher wavelength causes only heating up of solar cell and does not produce any electrical current. Each photon can cause only production of one electron-hole pair. So even at lower wavelengths many photons do not produce any electron-hole pairs, yet they effect on increasing solar cell temperature. The highest efficiency of silicon solar cell is around 23 %, by some other semi-conductor materials up to 30 %, which is dependent on wavelength and semiconductor material. Self loses are caused by metal contacts on the upper side of a solar cell, solar cell resistance and due to solar radiation reflectance on the upper side (glass) of a solar cell. Crystalline solar cells are usually wafers, about 0.3 mm thick, sawn from Si ingot with diameter of 10 to 15 cm. They generate approximately 35 mA of current per cm2 area (together up to 2 A/cell) at voltage of 550 mV at full illumination. Lab solar cells have the efficiency of up to 20 %, and classically produced solar cells up to 15 %.

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