Most solar cells in use today use energy from the sun. And while the majority of sun-generated energy is actually scattered light, some energy in the form of photons (the quantum of the light) is absorbed by the cell.
This is why cell phones and laptops are solar cells in the same way that computers were powered by chips made of silicon.
The sun contains a lot of energy in the form of photons.
The photons interact with a semiconductor called silicon. The electrons in the semiconductor absorb all the sunlight’s energy and pass it along to the semiconductor.
And because silicon is so light-sensitive, the electrons in the silicon have to travel a lot more slowly than they might in a traditional computer chip. This can then result in much smaller electric charge within the semiconductor, so that energy is more easily transferred to and from the electrons.
Solar energy is a mixture of the photons, electrons, and semiconductors that is dispersed over a large area. The result is that it is spread out in space. This is called a waveguide.
Each type of solar cell consists of three types of layers – an insulator, a semiconductor, and some other material.
Insulators are glass and rubber like material. They are less than 1mm thick. They have no conductivity.
Semiconductors are metal and semiconductor materials with greater electrical conductivity than insulators.
In most solar cells, it is the semiconductor material that gives the light its properties, such as colour and the wavelength of the light. The colour comes about when the electrons in a semiconductor are moving faster than the electrons of the substrate.
The semiconductor layer is often made of layers of boron nitride (BNT) and boron nitride glass (BNG). BNG is the material usually used in photovoltaic solar cells. It is resistant to heat and light. While BNG makes up the material being used in most modern solar cells, it is not suitable for other applications.
As heat energy passes through a thin layer of the semiconductor, it increases in temperature. As the temperature reaches critical levels, the material in the semiconductor starts to degrade. This means that a large percentage of the light that is being released to the sun will be reflected off of the semiconductor. The more the semiconductor is damaged, the less light the solar cell can produce.
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