Solar power is a growing trend all over the world since it is readily available in most regions of the globe and, more significantly, it is a source of renewable energy that will never run out. Although solar energy is readily available, converting it into useable energy is a difficult task.

However, previous research has demonstrated that it can be converted into electric energy, and current research is focused on transforming all of the energy absorbed into useable electric energy.

Why is silicon used in solar cells?

Pure crystalline silicon, which has been used as an electrical component for decades, is the basic component of a conventional solar cell. Because silicon solar technology gained traction in the 1950s, silicon solar panels are commonly referred to as “first-generation” panels. Silicon now accounts for more than 90% of the solar cell industry.

Silicon is a cost-effective material with high energy efficiency. That is why it is frequently employed as a semiconductor material in first solar cells. Aside from that, it possesses strong photoconductivity, corrosion resistance, and long-term durability.

Because silicon is plentiful in nature, there is practically no scarcity of raw materials for making silicon crystals.

Types of photovoltaic solar cells

In general, silicon-based solar cells are divided into three categories based on the kind of PV cells used in them. Monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous or thin-film solar cells are the three types. Each of them has unique characteristics that can influence the amount of electric power generated.

Monocrystalline cells

Monocrystalline Solar PanelsPV cells cut from a silicon ingot formed from pristine single-crystalline silicon cells and are used to make single-crystalline cells. The circular curvature of the cylindrical ingot is squared when it is sliced, giving the cell its distinctive octagonal shape.

The cells are distinguished from polycrystalline silicon cells by their form. Monocrystalline solar cells also have a consistent black colour throughout. Because of the pyramid pattern of the crystal, the PV cells in the panel have a larger collection surface.

Polycrystalline cells

PV cells cut from several silicon crystals are used to make polycrystalline cells. Silicon is melted and placed into square moulds. The silicon is sliced into squares when it has cooled in the moulds. The polycrystalline cell is distinguished from the monocrystalline cells by its perfect square form (which is octagonal in shape).

These have the same qualities as monocrystalline solar panels, but they convert solar energy into electricity at a lower efficiency. Because there is less silicon waste, these cells are less expensive to produce than monocrystalline cells.

Amorphous cells or thin-film cells

Amorphous silicon solar panels are made up of thin layers of amorphous silicon placed on a substrate. These are gaining popularity because of their mass manufacturing capabilities and their potential to be used in situations where the surface area available for deploying the panels is not a restriction.

Due to their poor efficiency, amorphous solar cells are employed in tiny applications such as pocket calculators. Layers can be merged to increase efficiency using the new ‘stacking’ approach (6-8 per cent). Because amorphous solar panels are flexible, they may also be employed on curved surfaces in novel ways.

How do silicon solar cells work?

Because pure crystalline silicon cells are semiconductor materials at their core, they are poor conductors of electricity. To overcome this problem, impurities are added to silicon in solar cells, which means that other atoms are purposely mixed in with silicon atoms to increase silicon’s capacity to collect and convert solar energy into electricity.

Basic operation and performance indicators of the silicon solar cell technology

Polycrystalline Solar PanelsTo understand how to build high-efficiency solar panels, it is useful to briefly reflect on their key performance parameters. We begin by considering the simplest form of solar cells, which consist of a semiconductor with given energy bands and conductive contacts with electrons and holes that assure charge carriers’ separation. In the absence of a photon, photons absorbed through the cell valence band will enter the conduction band.

Gallium atoms, for example, have one fewer electron than silicon atoms, whereas arsenic atoms have one more. When arsenic atoms are sandwiched between a large number of silicon atoms, the structure will have additional electrons, resulting in an electron-rich layer.

When gallium atoms are used instead, there will be a dearth of electrons, resulting in an electron-poor layer. In a solar cell, the layers are stacked on top of each other, creating an electric field. When sunlight strikes solar cells, they generate electrons, which then leave holes. The existence of an electric field causes them to move to the cell’s electrodes. Electrical energy is produced in this way.

How much energy can we get from the Sun?

According to the US Department of Energy, the sun sends 430 quintillion Joules of energy to the Earth every hour. That’s 430 followed by 18 zeros! The total amount of energy consumed by all humans in a year is 410 quintillion Joules.

Therefore, the sun gives us much more power than we need to sustain and is a brilliant source of renewable energy.

What is the cost of a silicon solar cell?

When it comes to the cost of solar cells, there are several aspects to consider. These factors include the type of solar cell placed, the system’s size, your home’s type, which direction the roof faces, and, perhaps most importantly, the quality of the panels and components (such as the inverter) utilised.

Solar cells have gotten considerably more inexpensive as the solar business has evolved and changed in recent years. Solar energy is a terrific form of renewable energy that will surely reduce your carbon footprint, independent of cost and money saved.

The cost of a typical solar spectrum, including installation, ranges from £2500 to £8000. This will vary depending on the panels you pick and the size of your roof. Solar roof tiles are far more expensive than solar panels, costing between £5000 and £14000 depending on the number required.

FAQs

What are the disadvantages of a silicon solar cell?

Types of Solar PanelsThe sun’s energy is sporadic and unpredictable, and it can only be used in the presence of sunshine. In addition, when the weather is overcast, the electricity output is diminished. Solar energy transmission over long distances is inefficient and complex. This can be a particular disadvantage during the winters in the UK due to the lack of sunlight.

How efficient are silicon-based solar cells?

The greatest silicon solar cell achieved a 26.7 per cent efficiency on a lab scale, whereas today’s standard silicon solar cell panels run at roughly 22 per cent efficiency.

As a result, many current solar research programmes are devoted to identifying and developing more effective sunlight conductors. These new organic solar cells must have a better conversion efficiency, or the ability to convert a bigger proportion of incoming solar energy into electrical energy.

Summing up

Solar cells are brilliant sources of renewable energy and can provide more power than that needed by the entire human race. As the planet stands on the brink of climate change and extinction rebellion, with governments around the world racing toward renewable energy, we can do our part to save the climate.

Solar cells are also budget-friendly, with no hefty electricity bill required. In order to reduce your carbon footprint, you should try out solar cells to light up your house.