ANTONIO ROMERO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ANTONIO ROMERO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Defective polycrystalline silicon solar cell, light micrograph. This photovoltaic cell converts light into electrical energy. This is a clean and renewable source of energy. The cell is made from a polycrystalline silicon nitride wafer (blue), a semiconductor material, covered by a grid of electrodes. Here one of the lines of the grid, known as a finger, has a gap in it, due to a defect in the screen printing process. This line, which is made of silver nanoparticles, collects the current and delivers it to busbars, which direct it out of the cell. Polycrystalline cells are less efficient than monocrystalline cells, but are far cheaper to manufacture. Magnification: x230 when printed at 10 centimetres wide.
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