What Material is Used in Solar Panels?
Over the years, the materials and parts of solar panels went through phenomenal changes. They’ve come a long way since they were first studied in the 1800s. Yes, solar panels and cells are not entirely new technology; however, solar panels didn’t skyrocket until the late 1950s.
What triggered that sudden boom? Well, it was all thanks to the discovery of a reliable light-absorbing material named Silicon.
Silicon: the super light absorber!
Silicon is the main component of solar cells. Along with oxygen, boron, and other metals, they make up a light-absorbing solar cell.
Where do providers get Silicon? Manufacturers harvest Silicon in mines located in quartz-rich areas. But that’s not the real challenge here. Getting Silicon, in a way, is simpler compared to processing it for commercial use. For a Silicon material to have a high photovoltaic quality (which generates high efficiency), the providers must purify it.
After a thorough processing, it develops a metallurgical purity. Metallurgy, also known as refining, is the procedure of purifying impure metals like Silicon. The material itself doesn’t change much; however, in metallurgy, its purity is intensified. Silicon, in particular, is removed in white cast iron through metallurgy. The product after that metallurgy is a refined iron.
Only the purest of the pure
Is purifying Silicon enough for solar cells to be photovoltaic? As mentioned, the providers must purify the Silicon to boost its light-absorbing quality; however, this is not enough. They must purify Silicon until it develops a Crystalline structure.
Two types of Crystalline
1. Monocrystalline silicon
Also known as single crystal, monocrystalline comes with unique properties, which makes them useful in the electronics and optics industries. Meanwhile, monocrystalline solar cells generate remarkably high-efficiency rates. Because of their ordered internal structure, electrons can easily move through them. Their processing is also taxing and thorough. That’s why it’s not surprising why monocrystalline solar cells also come at a pricey cost.
2. Polycrystalline silicon
Likewise referred to as poly-si, polycrystalline silicon is also a high purity material that also comes with notable benefits. Although its main issue is efficiency in the cell, it helps the manufacturers gain more profit since it’s cheaper to process. In addition, Poly-Si does not also require silicon wafers, which in turn minimizes the silicon shortage in the solar cell industry.
Once those two purified Silicons are set up, the manufacturers then dope it with either Boron (P-type) or Phosphorus (N-type). They do this to transform the Silicon into proper semiconductors, which conduct electricity to your homes.
Now, to increase the efficiency rate, manufacturers coat the cell with titanium dioxide, an anti-reflective (AR) coating. With this additional material, your cells can reflect less light and absorb more light, boosting your panels’ efficiency rate.
Are you ready to see those materials in action?
Now that you know what solar panels are made of, it’s about time to see them in action. Why not start with us? It will be our pleasure to teach you more about our solar cells and their materials.
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