MARTIN BOND / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARTIN BOND / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Solar cells. Close-up of the surface of solar (photovoltaic) cells, which convert light into electrical energy. Cells are made from a semi-conductor such as silicon (as here). When light hits it it releases electrons, which are converted into an electrical current. A grid of thin wires collects the electrons. These are polycrystalline (amorphous) cells, made from numerous small silicon crystals. This type of cell is less efficient than a single-crystal cell, but is far cheaper to manufacture. Solar power is an environmentally-friendly energy source. It does not use up limited resources and does not release toxic waste products.
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