Photonics Dictionary


Photovoltaic (PV) refers to a technology that converts sunlight directly into electricity using semiconductors. The term "photovoltaic" is derived from the words "photo," meaning light, and "voltaic," referring to electricity, named after Alessandro Volta, a pioneer in the field of electricity.

Key points about photovoltaic technology:

Photovoltaic cells: The basic building block of photovoltaic technology is the photovoltaic cell, also known as a solar cell. These cells are made of semiconductor materials, such as silicon, which can generate an electric current when exposed to sunlight.

Solar panels: Photovoltaic cells are typically assembled into larger structures called solar panels or solar modules. These panels can be grouped together to form photovoltaic arrays, creating a larger surface area for capturing sunlight.

Sunlight to electricity conversion: When sunlight strikes the semiconductor material in a photovoltaic cell, it excites electrons, creating an electric current. This process is known as the photovoltaic effect. The generated electricity can then be used to power electrical devices or be fed into the electrical grid.

Photovoltaic systems: Photovoltaic systems can range from small, standalone installations for residential or remote power needs to large utility-scale solar farms. They are used to generate electricity for a wide range of applications, including residential, commercial, and industrial power needs.

Renewable energy source: Photovoltaic technology is considered a renewable energy source because it harnesses energy from the sun, which is an essentially limitless and clean source of energy.

Environmental benefits: Photovoltaic systems produce electricity without emitting greenhouse gases or air pollutants, contributing to a reduction in the environmental impact associated with electricity generation.

Advancements and research: Ongoing research and technological advancements aim to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of photovoltaic technology. This includes the development of new materials, improved cell designs, and innovative installation methods.

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