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I - V Characteristic of a solar cell

The figure below shows the output characteristic of a solar cell. This I-V curve
illustrates the relationship between the current and the voltage under standard test
conditions (STD),i.e. 1000 per square meter of radiation and 25 of temperature.
Where as in reality, the characteristics of the I - V curve depend on the solar cell
technology or on a number of environmental conditions like temperature, solar
radiations etc.

Figure 4: I-V Characteristic of a solar cell

The I-V curve consists of three important operating points,

Open-circuit voltage.

Short-circuit current.

Maximum power point.

Open-circuit voltage ( )
When there is no load connected to the output of the solar cell then the value of the voltage will
be at its maximum with no current being drown through it (i.e. Voc = V(at I = 0) ).That is
the point where open circuit voltage occurs.

Voc can be calculated from the equivalent solar cell circuit as,

Voc =

nkT
q

(ln

Iph
Io

+ 1)

Short-circuit current ( )
Short circuit current occurs when the voltage at the output is zero and the value of the
current is at its maximum ((i. e Isc = I (at V = 0))
Isc can be calculated from the equivalent solar cell circuit as,

= ( 1)
Maximum Power Point ( )
As power is the product of current and voltage so therefore looking at the I-V curve the
power operating at the Isc and Voc is zero. As at Isc the output current is at max. value
but has zero voltage similarly at Voc the voltage is max. but has zero current, in both of
these cases the output power is zero, So therefor the point where the power will be at its
maximum will lie some ware between these two extreme point and that point is known
as maximum power point ( MPP ) or .This is the point which is desired for most of
the application which work on solar cell. Voltage and Current at this point are denoted
as and - [21].
Figure 5: Characteristic of a solar cell with
maximum power point

Types of solar cells


There are three main types of solar cells, listed as below.
Monocrystalline Silicon solar cell
Monocrystalline or also known as single crystalline silicon, are
made from a thin slice cut from a large crystal of silicon. They
appear black in colour and has the highest efficiency as they are
made from the best quality silicon. They have an efficiency of
about 15 20%. They are space efficient and require less space, as
the other types of solar cell with the same power output would
require more space. They are very long lasting and mostly come
with a warranty of about 25 years from the manufactures .At low
light conditions they performance is batten than polycrystalline

Figure 6: Monocrystalline Silicon


solar cell

solar cell - [22].


Polycrystalline Silicon solar cell
Polycrystalline (or multi-crystalline) are made simply by melting
raw silicon and then pouring in a square shaped mold, Which later
is cooled down and cut into small square pieces. They are blue in
colour and have an efficiency of about 13- 16% .the process of
making this type of solar cell is simpler, has a less amount of
silicon wasted and costs less.
They have moderately less heat tolerance and therefor perform
slightly less than monocrystalline solar cell under extreme
temperature. Because of the square shape cut of the cells, thy pick
up the lights from many different angles and therefor work well
enough even if they are not properly angled towards the sun - [22].

Figure 7: Polycrystalline Silicon


solar cell

Amorphous / Thin film solar cell


Amorphous / Thin film solar cell are made by depositing many thin
layers of amorphous silicon(a-Si) or other type of material like
Cadmium telluride ( CdTe ) or Copper indium gallium selenide (
CIS / CIGS ) directly into a substrate like glass or a steel sheet. This
technique has an efficiency of about 5 - 9 % only and requires a lot
of space but they are very cheep and easy to manufacture. They are
very flexible and have comparatively batter performance in shaded
or hot condition than other type of crystalline cells - [22].

Figure 8: Amorphous / Thin


film solar cell