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.
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.
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.