Understanding How PV Cells Work

2011 April 28
by roma

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 khanacademy.org.

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 allaboutcircuits.com forum. In the meantime, I will go onto reading about different types of fuel cells, as well as reading about photochemistry.

One Response leave one →
  1. roma permalink*
    May 4, 2011

    Still no answer on this on allaboutcircuits.com after almost a week.

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