Making Solar Cells

We will admit that it is unlikely you have enough gear in your basement to make a solar cell using these steps. However, it is interesting to see how a bare silicon wafer becomes a solar cell. If you’ve seen ICs going through fabrication, you’ll see a lot of similarities, but there are some differences.

The process calls for a silicon wafer, some ovens, spin coaters, photolithography equipment, and a dice saw, among other things. Oh, you probably also need a clean room. Maybe you should just buy your solar cells off the shelf, but it is still interesting to see how they are made.

Modern solar cells have some extra structures to improve their efficiency, but the cells in this video are pretty garden-variety. For example, some experimental cells use multiple layers of active devices, each tuned to absorb a different wavelength of light.

If you really want to make your own, there’s another process where you can start with some copper and wind up with a kind of solar cell that uses a copper-based semiconductor material. But don’t be fooled into thinking that making the silicon variety is totally out of reach to hackers, we’ve seen [Sam Zeloof] pull it off.

11 thoughts on “Making Solar Cells

    1. >If you really want to make your own, there’s another process where you can start with some copper and wind up with a kind of solar cell that uses a copper-based semiconductor material.

  1. I have also made a large metix of LEDs and found that they generate electricity. I noticed this when the power supply voltage came up as soon as the LEDs were connected. They made about a volt each. It could be a way for your tail lights to keep you battery topped up when the car is parked.

  2. Awesome! Great article and video. Yes. quad junctions are way neat and I want to say the most efficient performers though like high temperature solar cells say for space or concentrator apps… are way beyond my price point to invest in. I envision like with the quad junction PV’s, there are other frequencies in the atmospheric window and others to absorb energy from… though PV’s are more common. ;-)

    A to do on my list is a solar kiln to process high temperature materials. Kind of silicone processing step… still… one of those boundaries of science where we have an area of opportunity to improve control systems for economies.

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