Panels photovoltaic solar energy

What Are the Types of Photovoltaic Cells?

The main types of photovoltaic cells are the following:

What are the types of photovoltaic cells?
  • Monocrystalline silicon cells (M-Si). It consists of a single silicon crystal with a very uniform structure. It guarantees superior performance than other technologies because the silicon atoms are perfectly aligned, thus facilitating conductivity. 
  • Polycrystalline silicon (P-Si) solar cells. It is made up of many silicon crystals. They are cheaper but have lower performance.
  • Thin-Film Cells. It is obtained by depositing several layers of photovoltaic material on a base. With respect to the crystalline lenses it is easier to manufacture but it has a lower performance.
    • Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSC) and other organic solar cells.
    • Indian copper gallium and selenium (CIS or CIGS)
    • Cadmium Telluride (CdTe)
    • Amorphous silicon (a-Si) and other thin film silicons (TF-Si)

The different types of photoelectric cells depend on the nature and characteristics of the materials used. The most common type is the crystalline silicon (Si) cell. This material is cut into very thin disc-shaped sheets, monocrystalline or polycrystalline, depending on the manufacturing process of the silicon bar.

The first crystalline cell to be manufactured in the industrial field is that of pure monocrystalline silicon. These types of solar cells have a good energy performance, but have a higher cost than other types. For this reason, they currently have a moderate level of implementation.

Solar cells are responsible for converting solar radiation into electricity in the form of direct current. Photoelectric cells are an indispensable element for this type of renewable energy. The set of photovoltaic cells connected in series form a solar panel. In this case, a photovoltaic solar panel.

What Are the Characteristics of Monocrsitalin Cells?

Monocrystalline solar cells usually have a square shape, with rounded corners. Formerly they had a circular shape. This is due to the growth process of monocrystalline silicon crystal that has a cylindrical shape.

These are the most outstanding characteristics of the monocrystalline cell:

  • The heating process is slower.
  • Its manufacturing process is more energy cost.
  • It is more efficient compared to the other types of solar cells.
  • The manufacturing process is longer.

Monocrystalline and polycrystalline photovoltaic cells

What Are Polycrystalline Solar Cells?

In the polycrystalline silicon manufacturing process, silicon is allowed to slowly solidify in a rectangular mold and a rectangular solid with many crystals is obtained, resulting in polycrystalline cells.


These types of cells have a lower performance than monocrystallines, but currently they have a strong implantation because they have a lower economic cost than monocrystallines.

What Are Thin-film Solar Cells?

With less implementation, we can find photovoltaic panels on the market called "thin layer". These are not manufactured with individual cells, but in the form of continuous bands in which a thin layer of amorphous silicon (a-Si), 1 or 2 microns thick, is deposited on an appropriate substrate (glass or synthetic resins), making a continuous panel that does not need interior interconnections.

The thickness range of this layer is very wide and varies from a few nanometers to tens of micrometers.

A characteristic of these cells is that the photons that do not collide with any electron pass through them thanks to their small thickness, which makes it possible to design panels with different overlapping layers and which are called tandem (two layers) or triple junction (three layers) .

One of the row layer types is the cell with amorphous silicon. Cells with amorphous silicon have a yield of approximately half that of crystalline cells, and therefore, in the manufacture of thin-film cells, other types of semiconductors are beginning to be used, essentially copper and indium selenur (CIS) or cadmium telluride (CdTe).

What Are the Types of Thin-film Solar Cells?

Many of the photovoltaic materials are manufactured with different deposit methods on a variety of substrates. Thin film solar cells are usually classified according to the photovoltaic material used:

  • Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSC) and other organic solar cells.
  • Indian copper gallium and selenium (CIS or CIGS)
  • Cadmium Telluride (CdTe)
  • Amorphous silicon (a-Si) and other thin film silicons (TF-Si)

What Other Types of Technologies Are There?

SiliconAs innovative technologies in the manufacture of photovoltaic cells, we will highlight the so-called "HIT cells" (Heterojunction with Intrinsic Thin Layer). This term refers to a technique based on the superposition of semiconductor layers of different "gap" such as amorphous silicon combined with crystalline silicon cells or cadmium telluride, etc.

This improves the energy efficiency of solar cells and broadens the spectrum of usable solar radiation, since each of the semiconductors is especially sensitive to some of the bands in the electromagnetic spectrum.

What Are Solar Concentration Systems For?

Another of the lines of technological innovation developed in recent years is the so-called solar concentration technique, which allows improving the use of renewable energy per square meter of photovoltaic panel.

This technology is based on the concentration of solar radiation on a small surface (the photovoltaic cell) using an optical concentrator. For example, through a Fresnel lens (magnifying glass effect) or a reflector, such as a simple mirror with which a significant increase in incident solar radiation can be achieved and, consequently, a higher energy efficiency of the system. This technique is also known as a solar oven.

In any case, concentration systems have the drawback that they take advantage almost exclusively of direct solar radiation. Therefore, with the concentration panels it is essential to use precise monitoring systems.

Currently, the market offers some photovoltaic panels with point Fresnel concentrator systems and other disc-parabolic concentrators integrated in the same panel, which can increase the incident radiation in the cell up to 500 times, and thus significantly increase production. energy per unit cell area.


Published: February 12, 2016
Last review: March 28, 2020