Posts tagged ‘chemistry’

2011 April 28 13:30
by roma

Understanding How PV Cells Work

I opened up a pamphlet from SolarWorld explaining how photovoltaic cells work, but wasn't satisfied with the explanation geared towards the layperson. N-type, P-type? What is this stuff?

Turned out that I had to go all the way back to my 1-st year college chemistry textbook. It took me a couple of days to review electron orbitals, valence electrons, periodic table properties, electronegativity, and metallic, ionic and covalent bonds. All done with the help of videos at

Finally, I got to the bottom of the actual constitution of a photovoltaic cell. That is, I can picture the extra electrons floating around in the matrix of the silicon - phosphorus mix in an n-type layer. I can also visualize the "hole" created by a lack of electrons in the silicon - boron mix of the p-type layer.

I posted some lingering questions on the forum. In the meantime, I will go onto reading about different types of fuel cells, as well as reading about photochemistry.