Solar cells are semi-conductor devices which use sunlight to produce electricity. They are manufactured and processed in a similar fashion as computer memory chips.
Solar cells are primarily made up of silicon which absorbs the photons emitted by sun’s rays. The process was discovered as early as 1839. Silicon wafers are doped and the electrical contacts are put in place to connect each solar cell to another. The resulting silicon disks are given an anti-reflective coating. This coating protects sunlight loss. The solar cells are then encapsulated and placed in an aluminium frame. The process requires continuous monitoring to ensure quality control over a period of time. After the manufacturing process is complete they undergo final test to check their efficiency under normal conditions (Fig. 3.2).
Solar cells provide more energy than other conventional sources with an additional advantage of being light weight and cost effective. Developing cheaper alternatives to solar cells such as amorphous silicon and polycrystalline silicon are also in the pipeline. Current research reveals that in order to increase the amount of sunlight effectively used and focusing it, prismatic lenses and layers of different materials could also be used.