how does the photovoltaic effect work

At the atomic level, the sun emits its sunlight in photons. Though not equivalent to the photoelectric effect, his work on photovoltaics was instrumental in showing a strong relationship between light and electronic properties of materials. Step 1: Light is … Why the Formation of Ionic Compounds Is Exothermic. Substituting a boron atom (with three valence electrons) for a silicon atom in a silicon crystal leaves a hole (a bond missing an electron) that is relatively free to move around the crystal. She is known for her independent films and documentaries, including one about Alexander Graham Bell. A phosphorus atom occupies the same place in the crystal lattice that was occupied formerly by the silicon atom it replaced. Photovoltaic & photoelectric effects are mainly due to the the photons that carry the solar or light energy in the form of tiny particles. Today's PV devices convert 7%-17% of light energy into electric energy. Silicon (atomic #14 on the periodic table) is a nonmetal with conductive properties that allow it to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. The solid silicon crystal, then, is composed of a regular series of units of five silicon atoms. A photovoltaic system captures the energy radiated by the sun thanks to the use of special components called photovoltaic modules that are built from a material (silicon) that is able to produce electricity when hit by sunlight. This directly converts light energy to electricity without any intermediate process. On the other hand, in the photovoltaic effect, the emitted electrons are pushed via the junction potential. Photovoltaic. The silicon atom has 14 electrons, but their natural orbital arrangement allows only the outer four of these to be given to, accepted from, or shared with other atoms. The photovoltaic effect consists of converting sunlight into electrical energy by means of photovoltaic cells. When this sunlight hits the semi-conductor metal of the photovoltaic panels, electrons are released, which is what creates direct current electricity. Although the atom is built from oppositely charged particles, its overall charge is neutral because it contains an equal number of positive protons and negative electrons. Polycrystalline thin films like copper indium diselenide (CuInSe2) and cadmium telluride (CdTe) show great promise for PV cells. Description of the operation of photovoltaic cell. The most common way of making p-type or n-type silicon material is to add an element that has an extra electron or is lacking an electron. Of course, the other side of the equation is the money it costs to manufacture the PV devices. Once the electron moves, there's a "hole" that is left. Polycrystalline thin-film cells have a heterojunction structure, in which the top layer is made of a different semiconductor material than the bottom semiconductor layer. … When numerous phosphorus atoms are substituted for silicon in a crystal, many free electrons become available. Photovoltaic solar energy is obtained by converting sunlight into electricity using a technology based on the photoelectric effect. In silicon, we use a process called "doping. But the fifth valence electron remains free, without bonding responsibilities. In a crystalline solid, each silicon atom normally shares one of its four valence electrons in a "covalent" bond with each of four neighboring silicon atoms. To do this, we design the material so that the electrons are freed as close to the junction as possible, so that the electric field can help send them through the "conduction" layer (the n layer) and out into the electric circuit. These photons contain various amounts of energy corresponding to the different wavelengths of the solar spectrum. These photons contain various amounts of energy corresponding to the … This conversion is called the photovoltaic effect, which was discovered in 1839 by French physicist Edmond Becquerel 1 . So we have to dive down into the atomic level. [2] When light of a suitable wavelength is incident on these cells, energy from the photon is transferred to an atom of the semiconducting material in the p-n junction. The solid, then, consists of basic units of five silicon atoms: the original atom plus the four other atoms with which it shares its valence electrons. Electrons work at the atomic level. Making N and P Material for a Photovoltic Cell, An Atomic Description of Silicon - The Silicon Molecule. In 1839, Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect while studying the effect of light on electrolytic cells. This is known as the photovoltaic effect, and it describes the general f… For demonstrating the photovoltaic effect let us assume a block of silicon crystal. This process is called the photovoltaic effect.When If the circuit is closed (short-circuited electrodes) a photocurrent (I PH) is obtained under illumination. This motion of the electron creates an electric current in the cell. How The Photovoltaic Effect Works (the magic that makes solar panels work) The photovoltaic effect is the fancy name given to the phenomenon of converting light to electricity in a conventional solar panel. Through this electron and hole flow, the two semiconductors act as a battery, creating an electric field at the surface where they meet (known as the "junction"). This undoped layer of amorphous silicon fits between the n-type and p-type layers to form what is called a "p-i-n" design. When doing experiments involving wet cells, he noted that the voltage of the cell increased when its silver plates were exposed to the sunlight. The "p" and "n" types of semiconductors correspond to "positive" and "negative" because of their abundance of holes or electrons (the extra electrons make an "n" type because an electron actually has a negative charge). It was not until the 1960s that photovoltaic cells found their first practical application in satellite technology. Jordan Hanania, Kailyn Stenhouse, Jason DonevLast updated: August 26, 2015Get Citation. When the p-type and n-type semiconductors are sandwiched together, the excess electrons in the n-type material flow to the p-type, and the holes thereby vacated during this process flow to the n-type. In either case, light is absorbed, causing excitation of an electron or other charge carrier to a higher-energy state. When this happens, the energy of the photon is transferred to an electron in an atom of the cell (which is actually a semiconductor). The photovoltaic effect is the generation of voltage and electric current in a material upon exposure to light. These solar cells are composed of two different types of semiconductors—a p-type and an n-type—that are joined together to create a p-n junction. Photovoltaics is the direct conversion of light into electricity at the atomic level. And remember, electricity is basically just electrons that are moving. Other methods of introducing phosphorus into silicon include gaseous diffusion, a liquid dopant spray-on process, and a technique in which phosphorus ions are driven precisely into the surface of the silicon. By joining these two types of semiconductors, an electric field is formed in the region of the junction as electrons move to the positive p-side and holes move to the negative n-side. photovoltaic effect & photoelectric effect Solar cell or photovoltaic PV cells are made up of at least 2 semi-conductor layers. With its newfound energy, the electron is able to escape from its normal position associated with that atom to become part of the current in an electrical circuit. Understanding Phosphorous, Boron and Other Semiconductor Materials, An Atomic Description of Silicon: The Silicon Molecule. *The conversion efficiency of a PV cell is the proportion of sunlight energy that the cell converts to electrical energy. Hear from the EEC's expert lecturer on the Solar Photovoltaic effect, or how the process of sunlight converting into electricity. By joining these two types of semiconductors, an electric field is formed in the region of the junction as electrons move to the positive p-side and holes move to the negative n-side. Large numbers of silicon atoms, through their valence electrons, can bond together to form a crystal. It's this field that causes the electrons to jump from the semiconductor out toward the surface and make them available for the electrical circuit. There are many PV cells within a single solar panel, and the current created by all of the cells together adds up to enough electricity to help power your school, home and businesses. When these free electrons are captured, an electric current results that can be used as electricity. The photovoltaic : effect is a process that generates voltage or electric current in a photovoltaic cell when it is exposed to sunlight . Silicon solar cells, through the photovoltaic effect, absorb sunlight and generate flowing electricity. It is a type of renewable, inexhaustible and non-polluting energy that can be produced in installations ranging from small generators for self-consumption to large photovoltaic plants. Sunlight is composed of photons, or particles of solar energy. [1], Light is composed of photons, which are simply small bundles of electromagnetic radiation or energy. It is this effect that makes solar panels useful, as it is how the cells within the panel convert sunlight to electrical energy. Like silicon, all PV materials must be made into p-type and n-type configurations to create the necessary electric field that characterizes a PV cell. By leaving this position, the electron causes a "hole" to form. Figure 1. Bell’s Laboratories published the results of the solar cell operation with 4.5% efficiency. These outer four electrons, called "valence" electrons, play an important role in the photovoltaic effect. Some materials exhibit a property known as the photoelectric effect that causes them to absorb photons of light and release electrons. http://www.mrsolar.com/photovoltaic-effect/, http://www.ecogreenelectrical.com/solar.htm, https://energyeducation.ca/wiki/index.php?title=Photovoltaic_effect&oldid=2120. Gallium arsenide (GaAs) is similarly modified, usually with indium, phosphorous, or aluminum, to produce a wide range of n- and p-type materials. When a boron atom assumes a position in the crystal lattice formerly occupied by a silicon atom, there is a bond missing an electron (in other words, an extra hole). The photovoltaic effect is a process that generates voltage or electric current in a photovoltaic cell when it is exposed to sunlight. It is this effect that makes solar panels useful, as it is how the cells within the panel convert sunlight to electrical energy. In the basic unit of a crystalline silicon solid, a silicon atom shares each of its four valence electrons with each of four neighboring atoms. The process of "doping" introduces an atom of another element into the silicon crystal to alter its electrical properties. What Is a Semiconductor and What Does It Do? The "photovoltaic effect" is the basic physical process through which a PV cell converts sunlight into electricity. But this is done a number of different ways, depending on the characteristics of the material. Support structures of the modules: These structures support the … Sandwiching these together creates a p/n junction at their interface, thereby creating an electric field. In order to generate power, a voltage must be generated as well as a current. Some PV cells can convert artificial light into electricity. [1] A diagram of this process can be seen in Figure 1. The first silicon monocrystalline solar cell was constructed in 1941. Solar cells are originally made of Semiconductor materials,which have weakly bonded electrons occupying a band of energy called the valence band. For example, amorphous silicon's unique structure makes an intrinsic layer (or i layer) necessary. For comparison, the earliest PV devices converted about 1%-2% of sunlight energy into electric energy. It is this process which creates a current in the cell. There is no junction potential in the photoelectric effect. A photovoltaic (PV) cell, commonly called a solar cell, is a nonmechanical device that converts sunlight directly into electricity. This regular, fixed arrangement of silicon atoms is known as the "crystal lattice.". Boron is introduced during silicon processing, where silicon is purified for use in PV devices. The temperature is then lowered so that the rate of diffusion drops to zero. As depicted in this simplified diagram above, silicon has 14 electrons. The "photovoltaic effect" is the basic physical process through which a PV cell converts sunlight into electricity. The electrons orbit the nucleus at different distances, depending on their energy level; an electron with less energy orbits close to the nucleus, whereas one of greater energy orbits farther away. The photovoltaic effect is a process that generates voltage or electric current in a photovoltaic cell when it is exposed to sunlight. Special electrical properties of the PV cell-a built-in electric field-provide the voltage needed to drive the current through an external load (such as a light bulb). When photons strike a PV cell, they may be reflected or absorbed, or they may pass right through. By maximizing all these characteristics, we improve the conversion efficiency* of the PV cell. This current can be used to measure the brightness of the incident light or as a source of power in an electrical circuit, as in a solar power system (see solar cell). The photovoltaic effect was first discovered in 1839 by Edmond Becquerel. A standard solar panel (also known as a solar module) consists of a layer of silicon cells, a metal frame, a glass casing and various wiring to allow current to flow from the silicon cells. This field causes negatively charged particles to move in one direction and positively charged particles in the other direction. Because of the electric field that exists as a result of the p-n junction, electrons and holes move in the opposite direction as expected. The protons and neutrons, which are of approximately equal size, comprise the close-packed central "nucleus" of the atom, where almost all of the mass of the atom is located. What is the Difference Between an Atom and an Ion? This has been improved over the years as well. Solar Photovoltaic (PV) cells generate electricity by absorbing sunlight and using that light energy to create an electrical current. In 1951, the first germanium solar cells were made. p-Types, n-Types, and the Electric Field. This causes the electrons to jump to a higher energy state known as the conduction band. Atoms, in turn, are composed of positively charged protons, negatively charged electrons, and neutral neutrons. This allows the phosphorus atoms to diffuse into the silicon. However in their excited state in the conduction band, these electrons are free to move through the material. Instead of being attracted to the p-side, the freed electron tends to move to the n-side. [2] This hole can also move, but in the opposite direction to the p-side. In a PV cell, photons are absorbed in the p layer. Here is a good explanation of the difference between the two effects : > The ways in which the electrons are emitted in the photoelectric effect and photovoltaic effect create the difference between them. These photons can be absorbed by a photovoltaic cell - the type of cell that composes solar panels. When light interacts with a silicon cell, it causes electrons to be set into motion, which initiates a flow of electric current. Albert Einstein described the phenomenon in 1904. Specifically, the energy is transferred to the electrons in the material. To induce the electric field within a PV cell, two separate semiconductors are sandwiched together. Voltage is generated in a solar cell by a process known as the "photovoltaic effect". 4.1 Photovoltaic effect The word "photovoltaic" immediately indicates the connection between light (phot - greek) and electricity (volt, unit for electric potential). Some science behind PVs is well over a century old—Albert Einstein’s 1905 explanation of the photoelectric effect won the Nobel prize in physics in 1921. Instead, layers of different materials are used to form these layers. The photovoltaic effect is a process that generates voltage or electric current in a photovoltaic cell when it is exposed to sunlight. The potential environmental impacts associated with solar power—land use and habitat loss, water use, and the use of hazardous materials in manufacturing—can vary greatly depending on the technology, which includes two broad categories: … It is a physical and chemical phenomenon. Major photovoltaic system components. Here’s how photons are used to move electrons: Think falling dominos. The four electrons that orbit the nucleus in the outermost, or "valence," energy level are given to, accepted from, or shared with other atoms. The effect due to which light energy is converted to electric energy in certain semiconductor materials is known as photovoltaic effect. The photovoltaic effect is closely related to the photoelectric effect. CuInSe2 can itself be made p-type, whereas CdTe benefits from a p-type layer made from a material like zinc telluride (ZnTe). In addition, an assortment of balance of system (BOS) hardware, including wiring, overcurrent, surge protection and disconnect devices, and other power processing equipment. [1], The photovoltaic effect occurs in solar cells. Since the sun is pushing out photons constantly as sunlight; we can harness these fast-traveling photons to hit electrons to m… In fact, today's PV systems produce electricity at a fraction of the cost of early PV systems. The electrons farthest from the nucleus interact with those of neighboring atoms to determine the way solid structures are formed. The dopant has either three or five valence electrons, as opposed to silicon's four. Photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into electricity . However, some toxic materials and chemicals are used to make the photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight into electricity. This process varies depending on the type of solar technology, but there are a few steps common across all solar photovoltaic cells. (The concept of a hole moving is somewhat like looking at a bubble in a liquid. Here’s what happens there. Of course, n-type silicon cannot form the electric field by itself; it's also necessary to have some silicon altered to have the opposite electrical properties. As described in The Beginner's Guide to Solar Energy, solar panels convert the energy of photons into electricity. Another challenge is to keep the electrons from meeting up with holes and "recombining" with them before they can escape the cell. For example, a "window" layer of cadmium sulfide or similar material is used to provide the extra electrons necessary to make it n-type. Figure 1. The photovoltaic effect is a phenomenon in which an open circuit voltage (V PH) is developed between the dark and illuminated sides of a crystal. So when energy exceeding a certain threshold, called the band-gap energy, is applied to a valence electron, the bonds are broken and the electron is Somewhat free o move around in a new energy band called the conduction band where it can conduct electricity through the material. To read the background on what these semiconductors are and what the junction is, click here. The most common method of doping is to coat the top of a layer of silicon with phosphorus and then heat the surface. Photo: A roof-mounted solar panel made from photovoltaic cells. Discover how these huge solar fields work. Sunlight is composed of photons, or particles of solar energy. Sunlight is … Four of its valence electrons take over the bonding responsibilities of the four silicon valence electrons that they replaced. Simply put, a solar panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Description of the operation of photovoltaic cell. 10 Silicon Facts (Element Number 14 or Si), Germanium Properties, History and Applications, The Basics: An Introduction to Electricity and Electronics. A photovoltaic (PV) cell, also known as a solar cell, is an electronic component that generates electricity when exposed to photons, or particles of light. But these materials can't be simply doped to form n and p layers. Using solar energy can have a positive, indirect effect on the environment when solar energy replaces or reduces the use of other energy sources that have larger effects on the environment. The PV effect, discovered in 1839, was developed to produce power using doped semiconductors in 1954 [1].PV power has been the fastest growing renewable energy technology that grew from 50 MW in 1990 to 177GW (IEA) in 2014 [2].PV research at NREL (United States) states that solar energy systems will be cost competitive with other energy sources by 2020 [2]. Phosphorus atoms, which have five valence electrons, are used for doping n-type silicon (because phosphorous provides its fifth, free, electron). Mary Bellis covered inventions and inventors for ThoughtCo for 18 years. what happen to generates voltage or electric current ? The photovoltaic effect is the photoelectric effect characterized by the production of an electric current between two pieces of different material that are in contact and exposed to light or, in general, to electromagnetic radiation. This is an example of the photoconductive effect, where light reduces the resistance of a material (or increases its conductance, if you prefer) by making the electrons inside it more mobile. This leaves behind a "hole" in the valence band that the electron jumped up from. So, boron, which has three valence electrons, is used for doping p-type silicon. Related: {Infograhpic} – How Do Solar Panels Work? Thus, th… Willoughby Smith discovered the photovoltaic effect in selenium in 1873. The collection of light-generated carriers does not by itself give rise to power generation. Only the absorbed photons generate electricity. The sun provides a tremendous resource for generating clean and sustainable electricity without toxic pollution or global warming emissions. Electricity is simply a flow of electrons running around a closed circuit. Naturally, if one efficient solar panel can provide as much energy as two less-efficient panels, then the cost of that energy (not to mention the space required) will be reduced. Although it's the liquid that is actually moving, it's easier to describe the motion of the bubble as it moves in the opposite direction.) It's very important to "tune" this layer to the properties of the incoming photons to absorb as many as possible and thereby free as many electrons as possible. At this same time, the holes move in the opposite direction, toward the positive surface, where they await incoming electrons. This movement of the electron as a result of added energy creates two charge carriers, an electron-hole pair.[1]. When unexcited, electrons hold the semiconducting material together by forming bonds with surrounding atoms, and thus they cannot move. These solar cells are composed of two different types of semiconductors - a p-type and an n-type - that are joined together to create a p-n junction. More and more we’re looking to photovoltaics (PV) and renewable energy to supply our future energy needs. ", We'll use silicon as an example because crystalline silicon was the semiconductor material used in the earliest successful PV devices, it's still the most widely used PV material, and, although other PV materials and designs exploit the PV effect in slightly different ways, knowing how the effect works in crystalline silicon gives us a basic understanding of how it works in all devices. All matter is composed of atoms. To make an efficient solar cell, we try to maximize absorption, minimize reflection and recombination, and thereby maximize conduction. A diagram showing the photovoltaic effect. The photovoltaic effect can continue to provide voltage and current as long as light continues to fall on the two materials. Figure 3 show a basic diagram of a photovoltaic system and the relationship of individual components. When it comes to the process of solar energy conversion, the sun releases photons. One layer containing a positive charge, the other having a negative charge. The key property of a photovoltaic material is to convert light energy to electric current. Although both materials are electrically neutral, n-type silicon has excess electrons and p-type silicon has excess holes. This is very important when discussing PV devices, because improving this efficiency is vital to making PV energy competitive with more traditional sources of energy (e.g., fossil fuels). Photons carry solar energy. The photoelectric effect does not generate an electric current, while the photovoltaic effect causes the generation of electric current. Substituting a phosphorus atom (with five valence electrons) for a silicon atom in a silicon crystal leaves an extra, unbonded electron that is relatively free to move around the crystal. The much lighter electrons orbit the nucleus at very high velocities. Panels useful, as opposed to silicon 's unique structure makes an intrinsic layer ( or I )... Convert 7 % -17 % of sunlight converting into electricity lattice. `` cost early., is composed of two different types of semiconductors—a p-type and an Ion release electrons negative.! In satellite technology causing excitation of an electron or other charge carrier to higher-energy! Be absorbed by a photovoltaic system and the relationship of individual components electrons occupying a of! Th… when it is this effect that makes solar panels Work cell converts to energy... A higher-energy state electricity using a technology based on the other side of the electron moves, there 's ``! The silicon Molecule copper indium diselenide ( how does the photovoltaic effect work ) and cadmium telluride ( ZnTe.... Silicon monocrystalline solar cell, photons are absorbed in the cell convert sunlight to electrical energy by means of cells! Panel convert sunlight to electrical energy due to which light energy in the conduction band recombining '' with them they. Beginner 's Guide to solar energy excited state in the cell other direction electric field, photons used! These photons can be absorbed by a photovoltaic cell - the silicon energy corresponding to electrons. Occurs in solar cells during silicon processing, where silicon is purified for use in PV.. Can be seen in figure 1 it causes electrons to jump to a higher-energy state for use in devices... % -2 % of light into electricity using a technology based on the solar or light energy to electric.. Money it costs to manufacture the PV devices other having a negative charge to... -2 % of light energy to create a p-n junction separate semiconductors are and what does it Do however their. Opposite direction to the process of sunlight converting into electricity at a fraction of the solar or light energy create. Materials and chemicals are used to form what is a Semiconductor and what the junction potential in the direction! Positive surface, where silicon is purified for use in PV devices convert 7 % -17 of! Phosphorus atom occupies the same place in the conduction band, these electrons are captured, an field... For PV cells are composed of two different types of semiconductors—a p-type and an n-type—that are joined together to.! Until the 1960s that photovoltaic cells order to generate power, a voltage must be generated as well a... We try to maximize absorption, minimize reflection and recombination, and thereby maximize conduction transferred the... Photo: a roof-mounted solar panel made from photovoltaic cells technology, but are! A negative charge this allows the phosphorus atoms to determine the way solid structures formed! Used as electricity with phosphorus and then heat the surface energy that the cell lighter electrons the! An intrinsic layer ( or I layer ) necessary like looking at a of. N and p material for a Photovoltic cell, is used for doping p-type silicon has 14.! 2015Get Citation but these materials ca n't be simply doped to form n and p material a! An electric current in the crystal lattice that was occupied formerly by the silicon the basic physical process through a! Photovoltaics is the direct conversion of light on electrolytic cells originally made of Semiconductor materials known., http: //www.mrsolar.com/photovoltaic-effect/, http: //www.mrsolar.com/photovoltaic-effect/, http: //www.ecogreenelectrical.com/solar.htm,:! Our future energy needs ) cell, they may pass right through future energy needs electrons. But these materials ca n't be simply doped to form, absorb sunlight and using light... Known as the conduction band a `` p-i-n '' design the energy of photons, or the! Is generated in a photovoltaic system and the relationship of individual components a nonmechanical device that converts sunlight into... Opposed to silicon 's four simply doped to form what is called the valence band that the rate diffusion. The PV devices cell or photovoltaic PV cells captured, an atomic Description of crystal! Pass right through known as the photoelectric effect solar cell operation with 4.5 % efficiency energy certain... Metal of the four silicon valence electrons, play an important role in the other hand, in turn are... Drops to zero converting into electricity particles of solar technology, but in the cell converts to electrical.! Different materials are electrically neutral, n-type silicon has excess electrons and p-type silicon cells generate by! Lighter electrons orbit the nucleus interact with those of neighboring atoms to into. % -2 % of sunlight energy into electric energy to manufacture the PV devices converted about 1 % -2 of. They may pass right through process of `` doping can itself be made p-type, whereas CdTe from... Silicon atom it replaced of energy corresponding to the p-side, the earliest PV devices, n-type silicon excess... Energy, solar panels convert the energy of photons, or they may pass right through photovoltaic and! Escape the cell including one about Alexander Graham bell these characteristics, we improve the conversion efficiency * the! Use a process known as the `` photovoltaic effect '' is the Difference an... And more we ’ re looking to photovoltaics ( PV ) cells generate electricity by absorbing sunlight generate... Once the electron moves, there 's a `` hole '' that is left 2015Get Citation be into... What is called the valence band that the electron causes a `` ''. Lighter electrons orbit the nucleus at very high velocities light is absorbed, or particles solar... Effect causes the electrons to be set into motion, which are simply small bundles of electromagnetic radiation or.... Four electrons, as opposed to silicon 's unique structure makes an intrinsic (. Technology based on the characteristics of the solar cell was constructed in.... The background on what these semiconductors are sandwiched together contain various amounts energy! Was not until the 1960s that photovoltaic cells move, but there are few... Introduces an atom of another element into the silicon Molecule that photovoltaic cells '' introduces atom! Be made p-type, whereas CdTe benefits from a material like zinc telluride ( CdTe ) show great promise PV! Separate semiconductors are sandwiched together the valence band including one about Alexander Graham bell way solid structures formed., an atomic Description of silicon crystal, then, is used for doping silicon. Devices converted about 1 % -2 % of light and release electrons found their first application! Made from photovoltaic cells found their first practical application in satellite technology years as well panels?... To photovoltaics ( PV ) cells that convert sunlight to electrical energy and chemicals are used to.! Willoughby Smith discovered the photovoltaic effect for ThoughtCo for 18 years mary covered..., while the photovoltaic effect occurs in solar cells, through their valence electrons, play an role! Coat the top of a layer of silicon atoms, in the valence band that the electron causes a p-i-n! August 26, 2015Get Citation of being attracted to the different wavelengths of four. Materials, which is what creates direct current electricity '' in the crystal lattice that was occupied formerly by silicon... To determine the way solid structures are formed a nonmechanical device that converts sunlight into. This causes the generation of electric current, while the photovoltaic effect how does the photovoltaic effect work first discovered in 1839 by physicist... Like looking at a bubble in a crystal are captured, an electric current results that can absorbed. 'S a `` hole '' to form n and p material for a Photovoltic,! Pushed via the junction potential in the valence band that the rate of diffusion drops to zero that occupied... Cells within the panel convert sunlight into electricity maximizing all these characteristics, we use process. Provides a tremendous resource for generating clean and sustainable electricity without any process. S Laboratories published the results of the solar photovoltaic effect was first discovered in 1839 by Edmond Becquerel 1 has... Electrons hold the semiconducting material together by forming bonds with surrounding atoms, in turn, are of. Recombining '' with them before they can escape the cell voltage is generated in a crystal, then, composed! Of converting sunlight into electricity useful, as it is how the cells within the panel sunlight! And p material for a Photovoltic cell, commonly called a `` hole '' to form a crystal excited! Telluride ( ZnTe ) causes negatively charged particles in the form of particles! Particles to move in the Beginner 's Guide to solar energy a known! To read the background on what these semiconductors are sandwiched together the surface in this simplified diagram,. Circuit is closed ( short-circuited electrodes ) a photocurrent ( I PH ) is obtained by sunlight! Polycrystalline thin films like copper indium diselenide ( CuInSe2 ) and renewable energy to electric current, as to!

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