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Solar Technology related terms beginning with C.

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  • Cadmium (Cd) : A chemical element used in making certain types of solar cells and batteries.

  • Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) : A polycrystalline thin-film photovoltaic material.

  • Capacity (C) : See battery capacity.

  • Capacity Factor : The ratio of the average load on (or power output of) an electricity generating unit or system to the capacity rating of the unit or system over a specified period of time.

  • Captive Electrolyte Battery : A battery having an immobilized electrolyte (gelled or absorbed in a material).

  • Cathode : The negative pole or electrode of an electrolytic cell, vacuum tube, etc., where electrons enter (current leaves) the system; the opposite of an anode.

  • Cathodic Protection : A method of preventing oxidation of the exposed metal in structures by imposing a small electrical voltage between the structure and the ground.

  • Cd : see cadmium.

  • CdTe : see cadmium telluride.

  • Cell (battery) : A single unit of an electrochemical device capable of producing direct voltage by converting chemical energy into electrical energy. A battery usually consists of several cells electrically connected together to produce higher voltages. (Sometimes the terms cell and battery are used interchangeably). Also see photovoltaic (PV) cell.

  • Cell Barrier : A very thin region of static electric charge along the interface of the positive and negative layers in a photovoltaic cell. The barrier inhibits the movement of electrons from one layer to the other, so that higher-energy electrons from one side diffuse preferentially through it in one direction, creating a current and thus a voltage across the cell. Also called depletion zone or space charge.

  • Cell Junction : The area of immediate contact between two layers (positive and negative) of a photovoltaic cell. The junction lies at the center of the cell barrier or depletion zone.

  • Charge : The process of adding electrical energy to a battery.

  • Charge Carrier : A free and mobile conduction electron or hole in a semiconductor.

  • Charge Controller : A component of a photovoltaic system that controls the flow of current to and from the battery to protect it from over-charge and over-discharge. The charge controller may also indicate the system operational status.

  • Charge Factor : A number representing the time in hours during which a battery can be charged at a constant current without damage to the battery. Usually expressed in relation to the total battery capacity, i.e., C/5 indicates a charge factor of 5 hours. Related to charge rate.

  • Charge Rate : The current applied to a cell or battery to restore its available capacity. This rate is commonly normalized by a charge control device with respect to the rated capacity of the cell or battery.

  • Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) : A method of depositing thin semiconductor films used to make certain types of photovoltaic devices. With this method, a substrate is exposed to one or more vaporized compounds, one or more of which contain desirable constituents. A chemical reaction is initiated, at or near the substrate surface, to produce the desired material that will condense on the substrate.

  • Cleavage of Lateral Epitaxial Films for Transfer (CLEFT) : A process for making inexpensive Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) photovoltaic cells in which a thin film of GaAs is grown atop a thick, single-crystal GaAs (or other suitable material) substrate and then is cleaved from the substrate and incorporated into a cell, allowing the substrate to be reused to grow more thin-film GaAs.

  • Cloud Enhancement : The increase in solar intensity caused by reflected irradiance from nearby clouds.

  • Combined Collector : A photovoltaic device or module that provides useful heat energy in addition to electricity.

  • Concentrator : A photovoltaic module, which includes optical components such as lenses (Fresnel lens) to direct and concentrate sunlight onto a solar cell of smaller area. Most concentrator arrays must directly face or track the sun. They can increase the power flux of sunlight hundreds of times.

  • Conduction Band (or conduction level) : An energy band in a semiconductor in which electrons can move freely in a solid, producing a net transport of charge.

  • Conductor : The material through which electricity is transmitted, such as an electrical wire, or transmission or distribution line.

  • Contact Resistance : The resistance between metallic contacts and the semiconductor.

  • Conversion Efficiency : See photovoltaic (conversion) efficiency.

  • Converter : A unit that converts a direct current (dc) voltage to another dc voltage.

  • Copper Indium Diselenide (CuInSe2, or CIS) : A polycrystalline thin-film photovoltaic material (sometimes incorporating gallium (CIGS) and/or sulfur).

  • Crystalline Silicon : A type of photovoltaic cell made from a slice of single-crystal silicon or polycrystalline silicon.

  • Current : See electric current.

  • Current at Maximum Power (Imp) : The current at which maximum power is available from a module.

  • Cutoff Voltage : The voltage levels (activation) at which the charge controller disconnects the photovoltaic array from the battery or the load from the battery.

  • Cycle : The discharge and subsequent charge of a battery.

  • Czochralski Process : A method of growing large size, high quality semiconductor crystal by slowly lifting a seed crystal from a molten bath of the material under careful cooling conditions.

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