This article outlines the importance of solar cell technology in the context of world’s increasing energy needs, as well as the need to move away from fossil fuels in order to combat climate change. These factors drive the need for better solar cell technology, in terms of efficiency as well as carbon footprint during manufacturing. In order to understand all the challenges facing solar cell development, an understanding of the fundamental design, physics and materials making up solar cells is needed. This article moves from the very basics of semiconductors all the way to multijunction solar cells, making an effort to add historical and industrial context along the way. Ultimately, with the steadily decreasing cost of silicon-based solar cells, researchers need accurate data about their new devices as quickly as possible in order to maximize their opportunities in the market. The right tests, models and tools will allow them to do that.
Real-Life Applications Developed From Solar Cell Research
There are a plethora of possibilities and challenges in the photovoltaic industry, which you’ll learn more about throughout this article. While the benefits and applications of photovoltaics in solar energy are enough justification in and of themselves to pursue more efficient, leading-edge research, their applications reach a bit further into our future as a species.
Photovoltaic technology is already used for commercial power generation (at the Ivanpah solar power plant, for example). It’s used in road signs for construction work. Many of us have used handheld calculators that are solar-powered. We use the sun’s energy in everything from heating up and pumping water to powering satellites in orbit.
Solar cells open up possibilities for power in remote areas where grid access is unavailable. At institutes like the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, there’s been a wide range of spin-off companies from photovoltaics research, innovating in better systems for monitoring decentralized or mobile energy systems, better technologies for cost-effective and environmentally-friendly cooling, IT solutions tailored to the energy sector, solar-driven water treatment systems, and much more.
Solar technology is going to have a major impact on our world, if it hasn’t already. Our places of work might eventually have electronically-shaded windows that block heat from entering the building, reducing peak electricity demand, while also absorbing that sunlight to generate electricity. Our buildings and vehicles will be far more efficient and pleasant to use.
One thing is clear: photovoltaic technology will be a big part of humanity’s energy future, which makes it all the more important to strive for fast and accurate research data.
Continue in the other sections of this article to learn the fundamentals of this important industry.