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  • SunPower Announces Solar Cell Discovery
Aug 2005
SUNNYVALE, Calif., Aug. 24 -- Silicon solar cell and panel manufacturer SunPower Corp., a Silicon Valley-based subsidiary of Cypress Semiconductor Corp., announced the discovery of a new performance effect observed in high-efficiency silicon solar cells. This new effect, called "surface polarization," creates the non-destructive and reversible accumulation of static charge on the surface of high-efficiency solar cells.

Surface polarization occurs when minute amounts of electrical current leak through the face of the solar cell and accumulate on the surface. Current leakage of this sort is present in all solar systems but will accumulate or dissipate on the solar cells' surface depending on system grounding polarity and configuration. The presence or absence of surface charge can decrease or increase solar cell current generation in a fashion analogous to the switching of a programmable memory transistor.

SunPower found that electricity production in systems using high-efficiency solar cells could be significantly decreased or increased by varying the system wiring and grounding configurations, and that these performance changes were relatively rapid and completely reversible. As the result of their discovery, SunPower scientists have developed and applied for patents on new solar cell and system designs that eliminate surface polarization.

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With respect to light radiation, the restriction of the vibrations of the magnetic or electric field vector to a single plane. In a beam of electromagnetic radiation, the polarization direction is the direction of the electric field vector (with no distinction between positive and negative as the field oscillates back and forth). The polarization vector is always in the plane at right angles to the beam direction. Near some given stationary point in space the polarization direction in the beam...
solar cell
A device for converting sunlight into electrical energy, consisting of a sandwich of P-type and N-type semiconducting wafers. A photon with sufficient energy striking the cell can dislodge an electron from an atom near the interface of the two crystal types. Electrons released in this way, collected at an electrode, can constitute an electrical current.
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