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How Do Solar Cells Work? - Science/Technology - Nairaland

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How Do Solar Cells Work? by mediaprizm: 2:04pm On Sep 12
As the world’s fossil fuel reserve is coming to an end, the need for renewable energy is growing every day. It is estimated that the reserve of fossil fuel on earth is going to be burnt out roughly by the end of the century. That is if you are talking optimistically. The ultimate alternative strategy for this catastrophic starvation for power would be solar power. In this article, we are going to learn how a solar cell of a solar panel works.

What is a solar panel?

A solar panel is a compilation of multiple solar cells or electro-voltaic cells that transforms the energy of sunlight to energy. A solar panel usually consists of 12, 16, 32 or more solar cells. These solar panels are easy to make and use. They are very convenient to install. You can install them on your roof or in your backyard where sunlight is being wasted every day.

Components of a solar panel

A solar panel’s primary property is silicon. Silicon is the material also known in the Periodic Table as ‘Si’ which is used to make solar or photovoltaic cells. There are some other materials involved in the process of making a solar panel too. Such as phosphorus, which has excess electrons; boron, which has more space for electrons. Other miscellaneous components for the production of a solar panel are used too. But the key component here is silicon.

The construction of a solar cell

As we have already learned, the solar panel has a lot of solar cells. We can also call them photo-voltaic cells. These cells work in a specific mechanism. In the solar cell, there are two layers of silicon. One is containing a lot of electrons and another containing a lot of gaps of electrons or positive charges. As silicon is a semiconductor, the electrons can move freely. The electron-rich side is called the n-type or negative type layer and the gap containing side is the p-type or positive type. Together, the layers are called a p-n junction.

Mechanism of a solar cell

Now, the sunlight is mainly proton particles traveling at a speed of light. When the light hits the solar cell, the protons hit the electrons that are in the n-type layer. Electrons get bounced off by the force of the electrons and create a positive gap. Now both sides are enriched with negative and positive particles. Now if you connect these two sides with a wire, electrons start to flow, and thus electricity is produced. But don’t get too excited yet. One photo-voltaic cell can barely charge a cell-phone. You need at least twelve solar cells to start charging a mobile phone. Combine let’s say, about a batch of thirty-two solar cells together, then you have a solar panel.

When it is not going to work

Obviously, you cannot make a solar cell to produce electricity 24/7. At night, there is no way of making it work as there is no sunlight. But you can always charge up some batteries and make them available for you at night.
The era of burning fossil fuel is getting to an and. Renewable energy is taking over very rapidly. By the end of this century, almost all sector of this world is going to be using renewable energy. Among many other sources of this type of energy, solar power is going to be the main contender for the competition. This is why knowing how the solar panel works can come in handy. So, I hope this article helped you to understand how a solar cell works.

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