|Science and Tech Spotlight: Alternative Materials for Solar Cells|
This Spotlight examines evolving solar cell technology. Most electricity-generating solar cells are made with crystalline silicon in a process that is complex, expensive, and energy-intensive. Alternative materials may perform better and be easier and cheaper to make. Some absorb light 10-100 times more efficiently using thin films. In addition, these cells can be manufactured quickly and easily, reducing cost. Some alternative materials remain in the early stages of research and development but others are already in use. For example, cadmium telluride solar cells are produced commercially and cost about the same as crystalline silicon cells.