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Photovoltaic cells

Solar energy comes alive inside just a few square centimeters of silicon, the photovoltaic cell.

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Photovoltaic cells (or solar cells) are the heart of solar power generation systems. They are little dowels pieced together into a mosaic that makes up a photovoltaic module (solar panel).

Composition and function

They are usually square, around 125 millimeters per side, and are made up of so-called wafers, from 0.25 to 0.35 millimeters thick, layered one on top of the other. The material most commonly used to make photovoltaic cells is silicon. With the invention of thin film solar panels, a sort of revolution is underway that’s changing dimensions and introducing new materials (amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride or copper indium diselenide).

The classic structure of photovoltaic cells is based on two layers, N and P, negatively and positively charged. The two layers of silicon dioxide and aluminum create a circuit, while the anti-reflective surface is responsible for favoring the absorption of sunlight.

Each individual photovoltaic cell essentially functions by part of the structure absorbing a particle of light (photon). When it comes in contact with the P layer, it releases an electron, which then is channeled towards a circuit that gives life to electricity. All cells are interconnected by metal strips that form series or parallels of circuits.

Photovoltaic module

Photovoltaic modules are made up of a mosaic of solar cells. Here is a description of their main features and of Enel Green Power’s innovative solution.

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