At Solarworks, one of the questions we get asked a lot from our clients is "What exactly are solar modules made from?"
Of course, there are many types of solar modules - the commercial ones are mostly made from silicon - mainly mono crystalline or polycrystalline. In fact, solar modules that are in commercial production are generally made from either of these three types of cells:
Monocrystalline thin wafers are simply pieces of thin silicon - cut from large circular single crystal of high quality silicon. Solar cells of this type are considered to be the most efficient available. This means that solar modules produced with this type of silicon are a bit smaller than the rest of the market.
Another popular one is the Polycrystalline solar module. These are generally made from thin wafers cut from a group of tiny crystals pieced together. They are considered less efficient than mono crystalline. However, the gap between the two in terms of efficiency is not far off.
The third popular solar module are Amorphous or thin film cells. These are formed by laying a thin film of silicon directly on the glass, via the condensation of gaseous silicon. These are very thin cells - thickness of these cells can be measured in numbers of atomic layers. Unlike the other two cells, these are the type normally used in calculators and other small appliances.