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what is a photovoltaic cell quizlet

What is a Photovoltaic Cell?


A photovoltaic cell, also known as a solar cell, is a semiconductor device that converts sunlight directly into electricity. It is a key component of solar panels and plays a crucial role in harnessing solar energy for various applications.

How does a Photovoltaic Cell Work?

1. The Photovoltaic Effect

When sunlight (photons) hits the photovoltaic cell, it excites the electrons in the semiconductor material, creating a flow of electrical current. This process is known as the photovoltaic effect.

2. Semiconductor Material

The most commonly used semiconductor material in photovoltaic cells is silicon. Silicon has unique properties that allow it to efficiently convert sunlight into electricity.

3. Layers of the Cell

A typical photovoltaic cell consists of multiple layers, including a top layer of transparent conducting material, an antireflection coating, the semiconductor material, and a metal backing. Each layer plays a specific role in maximizing the efficiency of the cell.

Applications of Photovoltaic Cells

1. Solar Panels

Photovoltaic cells are widely used in solar panels for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. These panels are used to generate clean and renewable electricity from sunlight.

2. Solar Power Plants

Large-scale solar power plants utilize photovoltaic cells to generate electricity on a massive scale. These plants contribute to the global effort to transition to renewable energy sources.

3. Consumer Electronics

Photovoltaic cells are also used in smaller electronic devices, such as calculators, watches, and solar-powered chargers. These devices rely on the efficient conversion of sunlight into electricity.

In conclusion, photovoltaic cells are vital components in the utilization of solar energy for various purposes. By understanding how these cells work and their applications, we can appreciate their role in the shift towards sustainable and clean energy sources.

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