Polycrystalline silicon

In the production process of this cell, molten silicon is cast in blocks containing random crystals of silicon. In appearance cells are blue and square. It is cheaper than a monocrystalline cell but has a lower efficiency ranging between 8 and 12 per cent.

A variation of silicon technology has been developed by Spheral Solar of Cambridge, Ontario. It consists of 1 mm diameter silicon balls made from waste silicon from the chip making industry. The core of each sphere is doped to make it a p-type semi-conductor and the outer surface to make it an n-type semi-conductor. Each sphere is therefore a miniature

PV cell. The spheres are contained within a flexible aluminium and plastic matrix producing an effect similar to blue denim. The system has a claimed efficiency of 11 per cent and can be formed to almost any profile, which should make it attractive to architects. It is planned to market it during 2005.

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