INTERACTIVE: What Makes Up a Solar Panel?

Have you ever wondered how a solar panel is constructed and what makes it work?

A solar panel is a sophisticated “sandwich”, made up of different layers of advanced materials.

We invite you to explore our interactive guide to solar panels. Click on any of the identified layers to learn the basic function of that layer within the solar panel. Also noted are the DuPont advanced materials recommended for each layer.

Photovoltaic Panel - Frame
Photovoltaic Panel - Glass
Photovoltaic Panel - Encapsulant
Photovoltaic Panel - Cells
Photovoltaic Panel - Encapsulant
Photovoltaic Panel - Base
Photovoltaic Panel - Box
Photovoltaic Panel - Shadow


Although some types of solar panels are frameless, metal frames are typically used to stabilize the solar panel and protect the glass top layer.

However, replacing metal frames with lightweight DuPont high performance polymers can offer important advantages to solar manufacturers. Our high performance polymer resins allow for greater design flexibility, lighter weight, easier assembly and can lower installation costs, while also eliminating outdoor corrosion issues.


A layer of low-iron glass is typically used as the top layer of a solar panel. It provides mechanical strength, protects the front surface of the solar panel from physical damage and allows light to transmit into the solar cells.

DuPont does not currently offer glass or a glass-alternative product for solar applications.


Encapsulants deliver long-term protection for the most sensitive portions of solar panels. They cushion and protect the fragile solar cells and panel circuitry from impact and enable the transmission of sunlight to the solar cells.

DuPont ionomer-based encapsulants offer long-term durability and unique solutions to potential induced degradation (PID) and snail trails, two known causes of solar panel failure. Ionomer encapsulants provide performance, design and productivity advantages for crystalline silicon and thin film solar technologies.

Solar Cells

Crystalline-silicon wafers convert sunlight to electrical current, which is then carried to the outside circuitry by metallization pastes.

DuPont™ Solamet® photovoltaic metallization pastes have helped to nearly double solar cell efficiency over 12 years, significantly increasing the power output of solar panels. Advances in Solamet® metallization technology are key to helping our customers achieve solar cell efficiencies of up to 22% in 2015.


Backsheets are critical to long-term durability. They protect solar panels from UV, temperature, and moisture. They also provide electrical insulation for enhanced performance and safety.

DuPont™ Tedlar® polyvinyl fluoride (PVF) films are the only backsheet material proven to protect solar panels for more than 30 years, even in extreme outdoor conditions. Insist on Tedlar® film-based backsheets for long-term solar system performance and higher financial returns.

Junction Box

Protects the electrical wires which carry the current produced from the solar panel to an inverter, where the direct current (DC) is converted to alternating current (AC) electricity.

DuPont UV resistant polymer resins meet all known thermal requirements and deliver long-lasting performance, strength, and endurance in harsh environments for solar junction boxes and other structural components.


  How Does Solar Energy Work?

         ●  Solar cells are made of semiconductors such as silicon, a special material that can absorb light as energy. 
         ●  When absorbing light, the energy knocks electrons loose. 
         ●  These electrons are collected and flow along conductors in the PV cell. 
         ●  This flow of electrons, called a current, can be used as an immediate power source or stored in batteries for later use. 
         ●  The current combined with the cell’s voltage determines the amount of power the PV cell can produce.