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Solar Cells Material Types, Mono and Multicrystalline



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Material used to make a Solar Cell

The silicon is the favorites material to fabricate semiconductor materials due to it abundance, good crystal properties and low cost. Silicon is widely used in the fabrication of integrated circuits, transistor, rectifier other electronic devices and solar cells. The silicon as found in nature has little application if any in electronics or solar cells, the silicon needs first to be purified and then processed into a doping process in which two types of semiconductors materials are created, material N and material P. In the material N certain impurities are added to the purified crystal materials (See photovoltaic principles >>).


Not all solar cells are created in the same manner, many different materials and process exist that result in different costs and efficiencies  with some advantages and disadvantages, here a short review of the most popular:



Mono or Single Crystalline

This one in one of the first and most expensive  production process but still the most efficient to convert sunlight into electrical power. The efficiency for this type  is in the order of 10 to 12% on commercial units, they are growth on the form of large cylindrical semiconductor bar using the same procedure for integrated circuits, then sliced and doped. The efficiency of this type of materials degrades about 0.25 to 0.50% per year. This kind of material is the preferred for high performance applications like in satellites, remote sensors, remote data relay stations, high quality commercial and industrial applications. Cells of this material type can be easily identified by their round shape or square with rounded or cut corners and deep blue color.   












Multicrystalline or Polycrystalline

Less expensive than monocrystalline materials, it is manufactured in a process that involves the preparation of  pure molten polycrystalline silicon mass that is cast in blocks, then sliced into thin wafers, this material provides a 10 to 11% efficiency, very similar to the monocrystalline materials and same yearly efficiency degradation of  0.25 to 0.5%. It visual appearance is deep blue in a rectangular shape that can properly fit in solar panels, although a little bit less efficient than monocrytsalline cells, solar panels made with multicrystalline cells can be up to 18% more efficient per square area due to the almost no waste on panel surface area as can bee seen comparing both materials solar cells panels.




















Typical Multicrystalline Solar Cell

Typical Multicrystalline Solar Cell Panel

Typical Monocrystalline Solar Cell

Typical Monocrystalline Solar Cell Panel

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