Amorphous silicon (a-Si) is the non-crystalline form of silicon used for solar cells and thin-film transistors in LCD displays.
Used as semiconductor material for a-Si solar cells, or thin-film silicon solar cells, it is deposited in thin films onto a variety of flexible substrates, such as glass, metal and plastic. Amorphous silicon cells generally feature low efficiency, but are one of the most environmentally friendly photovoltaic technologies, since they do not use any toxic heavy metals such as cadmium or lead.
As a second-generation thin-film solar cell technology, amorphous silicon was once expected to become a major contributor in the fast-growing worldwide photovoltaic market, but has since lost its significance due to strong competition from conventional crystalline silicon cells and other thin-film technologies such as CdTe and CIGS.
Amorphous silicon differs from other allotropic variations, such as monocrystalline silicon—a single crystal, and polycrystalline silicon, that consists of small grains, also known as crystallites.