Global Contact     
Solar Energy Solar Energy Sitemap
Our Solar Power Spirit
Our Earth
About Solar Energy
Science Behind the Solar Cell
Manufacturing Solar Modules
Global Activities & Contributions
Installation Examples
Global Network
Regional Product Information (English):
North, Central and South America
Europe, Middle East and Africa
Products > Solar Energy > Our Solar Power Spirit > About Solar Energy > Science Behind the Solar Cell 

Science Behind the Solar Cell

 Converting Sunlight Into Electricity
Solar cell
Solar Cell
(multicrystalline silicon)
Photovoltaic modules, commonly called solar modules, are the key components used to convert sunlight into electricity. Solar modules are made of semiconductors that are very similar to those used to create integrated circuits for electronic equipment. The most common type of semiconductor currently in use is made of silicon crystal. Silicon crystals are laminated into n-type and p-type layers, stacked on top of each other. Light striking the crystals induces the “photovoltaic effect,” which generates electricity. The electricity produced is called direct current (DC) and can be used immediately or stored in a battery. For systems installed on homes served by a utility grid, a device called an inverter changes the electricity into alternating current (AC), the standard power used in residential homes.

 Power Generation Using the P-N Gate
High purity silicon crystals are used to manufacture solar cells. The crystals are processed into solar cells using the melt and cast method. The cube-shaped casting is then cut into ingots, and then sliced into very thin wafers.

Processing wafers
Silicon atoms have four "arms." Under stable conditions, they become perfect insulators. By combining a small number of five-armed atoms (with a surplus electron), a negative charge will occur when sunlight (photons) hits the surplus electron. The electron is then discharged from the arm to move around freely. Silicon with these characteristics conducts electricity. This is called an n-type (negative) semiconductor, and is usually caused by having the silicon 'doped' with a phosphorous film.

In contrast, combining three-armed atoms that lack one electron results in a hole with an electron missing. The semiconductor will then carry a positive charge. This is called a p-type (positive) semiconductor, and is usually obtained when boron is doped into the silicon.

Power generation using the p-n gate

A p-n junction is formed A p-n junction is formed by placing p-type and n-type semiconductors next to one another. The p-type, with one less electron, attracts the surplus electron from the n-type to stabilize itself. Thus the electricity is displaced and generates a flow of electrons, otherwise known as electricity.

When sunlight hits the semiconductor, an electron springs up and is attracted toward the n-type semiconductor. This causes more negatives in the n-type semiconductors and more positives in the p-type, thus generating a higher flow of electricity. This is the photovoltaic effect.

 Regional Sites
separete window Asia-Pacific
separete window Australia
separete window Brazil
separete window China
separete window Europe, Middle East and Africa
separete window India
separete window Japan
separete window North, Central and South America

 Related Information
Kyocera Headquarters Building Solar Power Generating System

Top of page
Products > Solar Energy > Our Solar Power Spirit > About Solar Energy > Science Behind the Solar Cell