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PV or Photovoltaic cells tend to generally be made of silicon. The performance of such solar cells really is determined on by the efficiency of which the sunlight can be converted into electricity.

There are several types of semiconductor technologies that are currently used for Solar PV panels.

Crystalline Silicon Thin Film
Crystalline silicon panels are constructed by first putting a single slice of silicon through a series of processing steps, creating one solar cell. These cells are then assembled together in multiples to make a solar panel. Crystalline silicon, also called wafer silicon, is the oldest and the most widely used material in commercial solar panels. Thin film solar panels are made by placing thin layers of semiconductor material onto various surfaces, usually on glass. The term thin film refers to the amount of semiconductor material used. It is applied in a thin film to a surface structure, such as a sheet of glass. Contrary to popular belief, most thin film panels are not flexible. Overall, thin film solar panels offer the lowest manufacturing costs, and are becoming more prevalent in the industry.

Monocrystalline Silicon

Monocrystalline (also called single crystal) panels use solar cells that are cut from a piece of silicon grown from a single, uniform crystal. Monocrystalline panels are among the most efficient yet most expensive on the market. They require the highest purity silicon and have the most involved manufacturing process.

Multicrystalline Silicon

Multicrystalline (also called polycrystalline) panels use solar cells that are cut from multifaceted silicon crystals. They are less uniform in appearance than monocrystalline cells, resembling pieces of shattered glass. These are the most common solar panels on the market, being less expensive than monocrystalline silicon. They are also less efficient, though the performance gap has begun to close in recent years.

Amorphous Silicon

Amorphous silicon is the non-crystalline form of silicon and was the first thin film material to yield a commercial product, first used in consumer items such as calculators. It can be deposited in thin layers onto a variety of surfaces and offers lower costs than traditional crystalline silicon, though it is less efficient at converting sunlight into electricity.

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe)

CdTe is a semiconductor compound formed from cadmium and tellurium. CdTe solar panels are manufactured on glass. They are the most common type of thin film solar panel on the market and the most cost-effective to manufacture. CdTe panels perform significantly better in high temperatures and in low-light conditions.

Copper, Indium, Gallium, Selenide (CIGS)

CIGS is a compound semiconductor that can be deposited onto many different materials. CIGS has only recently become available for small commercial applications, and is considered a developing PV technology.