Difference between Photodiode and Solar Cell

What are the major differences between Photodiode and Solar Cell?

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Photodiodes and solar cells are two different cells that convert light into electricity.

The main difference is that a photodiode is a single-junction device, which means it can only absorb one photon per electron pair whereas solar cells are multi-junction devices that can absorb multiple photons per electron pair and produce more current from each photon than photodiodes can.

Before we move to the differences, let’s understand what are Photodiode and Solar Cell:

  • Photodiode: Photodiode a device that converts light energy into electrical current, typically in the form of a surge. Photodiodes are commonly used in solar panels, cameras and other devices that require a small amount of power to operate.
  • Solar Cell: Solar cells are made up of semiconductor materials like silicon, gallium arsenide, or indium gallium arsenide. When sunlight hits these materials, electrons are knocked out of their orbits around their atoms and move freely within the material itself. This movement creates an electric current that can be harnessed for power.

Now, let’s move to Photodiode vs Solar Cell:

Major differences between Photodiode and Solar Cell

Photodiode Solar Cell
A photodiode converts light into electricity by generating a current when photons hit its surface. A solar cell generates an electric current directly from sunlight with no need for an external source of power.
Photodiodes can be found inside digital cameras and photocopiers. Solar cells are used to convert sunlight into electricity for homes and businesses.
Photodiodes have a specific wavelength region where they will absorb photons. Solar cells have a wide absorption spectrum that ranges from UV to infrared light wavelengths.
A photodiode can be used as an amplifier or as part of a circuit with other components. A solar cell can only be used in conjunction with other devices and cannot function alone.
The photodiode contains one p-n junction. A solar cell contains multiple p-n junctions.

That’s it.

Note that sometimes, the question might also be asked as “distinguish between Photodiode and Solar Cell”.

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Final words

The conclusion is that a photodiode and solar cell are two different types of devices, but they both convert light into an electric current. The biggest difference between the two devices is that photodiodes are made up of semiconductor material while solar cells are made up of different materials.

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