Definition: Solar cell

From Open Energy Information

Dictionary.png

Solar cell

Converts light into electrical energy. Traditional solar cells are made from silicon; second-generation solar cells (thin-film solar cells) are made from amorphous silicon or nonsilicon materials such as cadmium telluride; and third-generation solar cells are being made from variety of new materials, including solar inks, solar dyes, and conductive plastics.[1][2]

Wikipedia Definition

A solar cell, or photovoltaic cell, is an electrical device that converts the energy of light directly into electricity by the photovoltaic effect, which is a physical and chemical phenomenon. It is a form of photoelectric cell, defined as a device whose electrical characteristics, such as current, voltage, or resistance, vary when exposed to light. Individual solar cell devices can be combined to form modules, otherwise known as solar panels. The common single junction silicon solar cell can produce a maximum open-circuit voltage of approximately 0.5 to 0.6 volts. Solar cells are described as being photovoltaic, irrespective of whether the source is sunlight or an artificial light. In addition to producing energy, they can be used as a photodetector (for example infrared detectors), detecting light or other electromagnetic radiation near the visible range, or measuring light intensity. The operation of a photovoltaic (PV) cell requires three basic attributes:
  • The absorption of light, generating either electron-hole pairs or excitons.
  • The separation of charge carriers of opposite types.
  • The separate extraction of those carriers to an external circuit. In contrast, a solar thermal collector supplies heat by absorbing sunlight, for the purpose of either direct heating or indirect electrical power generation from heat. A "photoelectrolytic cell" (photoelectrochemical cell), on the other hand, refers either to a type of photovoltaic cell (like that developed by Edmond Becquerel and modern dye-sensitized solar cells), or to a device that splits water directly into hydrogen and oxygen using only solar illumination.

Reegle Definition

A solar cell transforms sunlight directly into electrical energy., A solar cell or photovoltaic cell is a wide area electronic device that converts solar energy into electricity by the photovoltaic effect. Photovoltaics is the field of technology and research related to the application of solar cells as solar energy., Silicon solar cells are the most common type of solar cells, silicon is one of the most frequently found elements but processing is energy-intensive and expensive.


Also Known As
PV cell
Related Terms
Solar energyPhotovoltaicsenergyelectricity generation
References
  1. http://www.nrel.gov/learning/re_photovoltaics.html
  2. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/solar_glossary.html#photovoltaic_panel