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Solar Panels and Electricity

There are more than one type of solar panel, but nearly all work by the same fundamental physics, and the very large majority of commercially available panels are made from silicon (Si). I will discuss this type here.

  • When silicon absorbs sunlight of a certain wavelength (shorter than ~1100 nm), an electron is excited into a state which is delocalized. In other words, this electron is now free to move around the entire panel with very little barrier. However, in a piece of plain old Si, there is no reason for it to go one direction rather than another (and electricity is the net movement of electrons in a single direction). In fact, the electron will move around in the Si randomly, and then eventually this electron will simply return to the ground, or unexcited, state and release heat (just like any black object does in the hot sun).
  • However, in the solar panel, there is something called a junction, where two slightly different materials meet. The two materials are actually both made of Si, but each one is doped (has a tiny percentage of other atoms mixed in) with a different element. The type of doping (the two types are called n- and p-type) of the Si determines its electrical properties. When an electron reaches this junction, it is either accelerated across it, or repelled by it, depending on which direction it is coming from (imagine water and a hill... water accelerates down the hill, but can't go up it).
  • Now there is directionality to the system. You attach a wire to each side of this junction, and when sunlight is absorbed, the free electrons now only flow in one direction, from one side of the junction to the other, driving a current through the external circuit.

Electricity is just that -- electrons having a net flow in a single direction along a wire.

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โˆ™ 2014-01-31 23:37:00
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Q: How do solar panels generate electricity?
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Related questions

How is electricity obtained?

Solar panels generate electricity from the sun.


What do solar panels absorb to generate electricity?

photon


Is solar panels natural resources?

No. Solar panels are human made though it does generate electricity automatically.


How is the sun used to generate electricity?

The sun is used to generate electricity through utilizing solar panels. The panels have units which convert the sunrays to energy and then to electricity.


How do solar panels keep your bills down?

Solar panels generate electricity. You can use this yourself, or sell it to the electricity company. Either way you can reduce your electricity bills.


The major disadvantage of using solar panels to generate electricity is that solar panels?

are affected by cloud coverage and day length"


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About how can we generate electricity from solar panels


What are the uses of solar panels in your day-to-life?

You can put solar panels on your roof to generate electricity from the sun. This can be stored in batteries or fed back into the grid.


Do solar cells help generate electricity?

Yes, they can be found in solar panels which obsord the sun for energy which can create both electricity and heat.


Is it true that solar panels are used to generate electricity?

YES. because it converts the solar energy into electrical energy


What generates electricity without polluting the environment?

Utilizing wind power....i.e. wind mills to generate electricity. Solar Energy....i.e. solar panels


How much electricity does one acre of solar panels generate in one year?

About 21 Kw a year.

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