Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week NEWTON Teachers Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Referencing NEWTON Frequently Asked Questions About Ask A Scientist About NEWTON Education At Argonne Solar Absorption and Surface Characteristics

Name: Mario
Status: student
Grade: 6-8
Country: Mexico
Date: Fall 2013

Why are solar panel cells smooth when absorption of light is better on rough dark surfaces? If dark, rough surfaces are better to capture Photons, why this is not used in a solar cell?

Hi Mario,

Thanks for the question. One of the reasons for having a rough surface is that there may be anti-reflective coatings on the solar cells. The anti-reflective coatings increase the absorption of light and these coatings need to be of precise thickness in order to be effective. Additionally, there may be manufacturing and quality assurance concerns if rough solar cells are used as compared to smooth solar cells.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have more questions. Thanks Jeff Grell

Click here to return to the Engineering Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 223
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: November 2011
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory