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August 20, 2013
Concentrator Photovoltaic System Basics

Concentrator photovoltaic (PV) systems use less solar cell material than other PV systems. PV cells are the most expensive components of a PV system, on a per-area basis. A concentrator makes use of relatively inexpensive materials such as plastic lenses and metal housings to capture the solar energy shining on a fairly large area and focus that energy onto a smaller area—the solar cell.

August 20, 2013
Flat-Plate Photovoltaic System Basics

The most common photovoltaic (PV) array design uses flat-plate PV modules or panels. These panels can be fixed in place or allowed to track the movement of the sun.

August 20, 2013
Photovoltaic System Basics

A photovoltaic (PV), or solar electric system, is made up of several photovoltaic solar cells. An individual PV cell is usually small, typically producing about 1 or 2 watts of power.

August 20, 2013
Photovoltaic Cell Quantum Efficiency Basics

Quantum efficiency (QE) is the ratio of the number of charge carriers collected by a photovoltaic (PV) cell to the number of photons—or packets of light—of a given energy shining on the solar cell.

August 20, 2013
Photovoltaic Cell Conversion Efficiency Basics

The conversion efficiency of a photovoltaic (PV) cell, or solar cell, is the percentage of the solar energy shining on a PV device that is converted into electrical energy, or electricity.

August 20, 2013
Photovoltaic Single-Crystalline, Thin-Film Cell Basics

Single-crystalline thin films are made from gallium arsenide (GaAs), a compound semiconductor that is a mixture of gallium and arsenic.

August 20, 2013
Photovoltaic Polycrystalline Thin-Film Cell Basics

Polycrystalline thin-film cells are made of many tiny crystalline grains of semiconductor materials. The materials used in these cells have properties that are different from those of silicon.

August 20, 2013
Photovoltaic Silicon Cell Basics

Silicon—used to make some the earliest photovoltaic (PV) devices—is still the most popular material for solar cells.

August 20, 2013
Photovoltaic Crystalline Silicon Cell Basics

To separate electrical charges, crystalline silicon cells must have a built-in electric field. Light shining on crystalline silicon may free electrons within the crystal lattice, but for these electrons to do useful work—such as provide electricity to a light bulb—they must be separated and directed into an electrical circuit.

August 19, 2013
Crystalline Silicon Photovolatic Cell Basics

Crystalline silicon cells are made of silicon atoms connected to one another to form a crystal lattice. This lattice comprises the solid material that forms the photovoltaic (PV) cell's semiconductors. This section describes the atomic structure and bandgap energy of these cells.