Jul 29, 2011

What is Photovoltaics and the Photovoltaic Effect?

“Photovoltaics” or ‘photovoltaic effect’ refers to the process of converting sunlight into electricity that can be used by homes and businesses. Solar radiation is used to generate direct current through ‘photovoltaic’ material which is found in solar cells (also called ‘photovoltaic cells). As you probably know, a series of photovoltaic cells makes a solar panel, which absorbs sunlight and does all the magic.

Thanks to advances in technology and public as well as private sector interest in this form of renewable energy, there are now different types of photovoltaic materials, which vary in terms of efficiency and cost.
This blog has previously mentioned three basic types of solar photovoltaic cells. You can read about them in detail in the post, but here’s a list for quick reference:

  • Single Crystal Solar Cells – this photovoltaic cell is made from silicon crystal.
  • Thin film Solar Cells – this photovoltaic cell is made of non-crystal silicon material.
  • Multi Crystal Solar Cells – this solar cell is made from layers of silicon crystal.

This article adds two more types of solar cells to the above list:

  • Cadmium telluride – this type of photovoltaic cell is made of a crystalline compound.
  • Copper indium gallium selenide – this type of solar cell is made from a variety of metals, as the name suggests.