MANFRED KAGE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MANFRED KAGE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Light micrograph of the surface of a polycrystalline solar cell. The first silicon photovoltaic solar cells were made using single crystals of silicon. Although these are relatively efficient, they are very expensive to manufacture. Polycrystalline cells (or 'amorphous' silicon cells) use very small crystals, as shown on this image. They are less efficient than single crystal cells, but are very much cheaper to produce. This makes them more attractive for large-scale applications where space or weight are not at a premium. Phase contrast illumination. Magnification x170 at 6x7cm size.
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