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CaliforniaPHOTON.com
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site last updated: 6/26/2010

C a l i f o r n i a   P H O T O N

Photovoltaics

Photovoltaics are devices that convert light into electricity throught the photoelectric effect -- a quantum phenomenon in which an electron is ejected from an atom or group of atoms upon absorbing a photon. The most common type of photovoltaics are cells made from thin slices of bulk silicon ingots. However, photovoltaics have been created from a variety of semiconductor materials using a number of different manufacturing processes.

Efficiency

The efficiency of a photovoltaic cell, module, or panel can be measured in the same way as the efficiency of any solar electric generating system that has a measurable footprint: by dividing the output power in kilowatts by the footprint area in square meters.

Currently-available photovoltaics range in efficiency from a few percent to just over fourty percent. 1  

Credit: Lawrence Kazmerski, Don Gwinner, Al Hicks, 11/11/07

References

1. Spectrolab raises solar efficiency to 40.7 percent, CompountSemiconductor.net, 12/7/2006