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Solar panels, made from banks of photovoltaic cells, are made using two types of semiconductors. In n-type semiconductors, there are more electrons than required to bind with neighbouring atoms, and unbound electrons can flow freely. P-type semiconductors are made from materials that have fewer electrons in their outer shells than are needed to form bonds with more

Solar panels, made from banks of photovoltaic cells, are made using two types of semiconductors. In n-type semiconductors, there are more electrons than required to bind with neighbouring atoms, and unbound electrons can flow freely. P-type semiconductors are made from materials that have fewer electrons in their outer shells than are needed to form bonds with neighbouring atoms creating 'holes'. At the boundary between the two semiconductors, free electrons on the n-type side of the boundary move to fill the holes in the p-type material, leaving positive ions on one side and creating negative ions on the other, but when a photon hits the surface, it is absorbed into an electron, providing the energy needed to free it from its normal position.

Electronic components may be connected to the positively and negatively charged contacts of a cell (or a module, containing many cells, or an array of many modules) to form an electrical circuit. In many parts of the world, government schemes are available to support the supply and installation of solar panels, generating cheap, sustainable energy that reduces dependence on national power grids, and may even be sold back to the grid for a profit. The term 'Solar Panels' can also be used to descibe solar thermal collectors, which capture the sun's warmth directly for hot water and central heating. Browse the following page to find companies that supply and install solar panels for domestic and commercial use.

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