How do Photovoltaics Work?

How do Photovoltaics Work?

by Gil Knier


What is Photovoltaics?

How do Photovoltaics Work? Photovoltaics is the direct conversion of light into electricity at the atomic level. Some materials exhibit a property known as the photoelectric effect that causes them to absorb photons of light and release electrons. Additionally, in the 1960s, the space industry began to make the first serious use of the technology to provide power aboard spacecraft. Through the space programs, the technology advanced, its reliability was established, and the cost began to decline. During the energy crisis in the 1970s, photovoltaic technology gained recognition as a source of power for non-space applications. Further, the current produced is directly dependent on how much light strikes the module.

Photovoltaic modules and arrays produce direct-current (dc) electricity. They can be connected in both series and parallel electrical arrangements to produce any required voltage and current combination. How do Photovoltaics Work?

These are referred to as “multijunction” cells (also called “cascade” or “tandem” cells). Multijunction devices can achieve a higher total conversion efficiency because they can convert more of the energy spectrum of light to electricity.

High-energy photons

A multijunction device is a stack of individual single-junction cells in descending order of band gap (Eg). Much of today’s research in multijunction cells focuses on gallium arsenide as one (or all) of the component cells. Such cells have reached efficiencies of around 35% under concentrated sunlight. Other materials studied for multijunction devices have been amorphous silicon and copper indium diselenide. As an example, the multijunction device below uses a top cell of gallium indium phosphide, “a tunnel junction,” to aid the flow of electrons between the cells, and a bottom cell of gallium arsenide. Thanks for reading How do Photovoltaics Work article.

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