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Polycrystalline or multicrystalline (poly-Si or mc-Si) cells are first-generation silicon-based solar cells. They're related to monocrystalline solar cells and are cheaper to produce. They are, however, less efficient at converting sunlight to electricity, although more efficient than second-generation thin-film solar cells.
Whereas monocrystalline silicon solar cells are made using cylindrical ingots of silicon, polycrystalline cells are made from large, square blocks of molten silicon that is cooled and solidified. These are cut into thin wafers and "doped" with other substances to create solar cells. The square shape is advantageous in that it wastes less silicon in filling out the entire area of the standard solar cell substrate (backing).
Polycrystalline cells are more popular than monocrystalline cells because of lower production costs. Consumers and producers are willing to cope with lower conversion efficiency in return for lower costs - a trend further evidenced by the rise of thin-film solar cells, which are considerably less efficient than both types of silicon wafer cells.
In February of 2009, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation announced that it had achieved a new world record conversion efficiency for its polycrystalline solar cell. The 150 x 150 mm cell converted 18.9 percent of the sunlight striking it into electricity. Compare this to leading thin-film solar cells, which convert electricity at roughly 11 percent efficiency.
The vast majority of solar panels you see on rooftops today are made using polycrystalline solar cells. They are relatively expensive but long-lasting and efficient. Standard manufacturer warranties on these solar panels reach up to 25 years, usually asserting that panels will still deliver 80 percent of initial output at warranty expiration.Monocrystalline Solar Cells / Amorphous Silicon Solar Cells / Gallium Arsenide Solar Cells / CIGS Solar Cells / Polycrystalline Solar Cells / Copper Indium Selenide Solar Cells
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