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Photovoltaics - How Sunlight is Transformed

Photovoltaics is the term used for the scientific method of converting solar energy into usable electrical energy. The devices used for the implementation of photovoltaic technology are known as photovoltaic cells. Most people who are going green are using various photovoltaic cells in their homes and offices because it produces pollution-free energy from the sun, which is an inexhaustible resource.

A semiconductor plate is the main component of the photovoltaic cell. Silicon is the most popular semiconductor used in present times. Several plates are mounted on panels or arrays and are positioned so that the sun's rays could fall onto them. When the light falls on the semiconductor, it absorbs a portion of the solar heat. Each atom of the semiconductor absorbs a fixed amount of energy which is known as a photon or a quantum of energy. Due to this, the electrons get agitated and move to a higher energy level. Now, if a difference were to be applied across the plate, these electrons will be pulled towards the positive terminal (anode) and a current would be established. This is the main principle on which the photovoltaics technology works.

Silicon is preferred because it has a stable crystal structure which each atom of it manages to have by the covalent sharing of each of its four valence shell electrons with other atoms. This covalent crystal lattice is disturbed when even a single electron is agitated and released due to the incident solar energy. This causes a sort of continuous effect through the entire lattice which makes more electrons agitated and enables them to get released and move on. Today, photovoltaics are the main resource used in the homes of people who have planned on going green because of the large amount of energy output it can provide.

The photovoltaics technology has been used profusely in energizing equipment in space and in solar calculators during the last two decades. It is only recently that the technology has been applied in energizing homes. In some areas of the world, buildings are constructed with photovoltaic panels already fitted into them. This aspect of the technology is known as Building Integrated Photovoltaics or BIPV in short. However, people who have been using other sources of energy can also get photovoltaic panels retrofitted into their homes. Such resources for going green with energy consumption requirements are popular in several US and European homes.

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