Solar Cells and Photovoltaics - Invention and Discovery Milestones - SchoolDirectory

Scientists & Inventors
Solar Cells and Photovoltaics


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1839: A. E. Becquerel, French physicist, discovered the photovoltaic effect.

1873: Willoughby Smith, English electrical engineer, finds that selenium shows photoconductivity.

1887: Heinrich Hertz, German physicist, first to observe the photoelectric effect - electrons are emitted from matter as a consequence of their absorption of electromagnetic radiation such as visible light or ultraviolet radiation..

1883: The first working photovoltaic cell was built by Charles Fritts, American inventor, who coated selenium with an extremely thin layer of gold to form the junctions. The device had very low efficiency.

1888: Aleksandr Stoletov, Russian physicist, built the first photoelectric cell based on the external photoelectric effect (photoelectrons emitted from surfaces as a result of light radiation) discovered by Heinrich Hertz earlier in 1887 (see above) .

1902: Philipp Lenard, Hungarian-German physicist, observed the variation in electron energy with light frequency - the rate at which photoelectrons are leaving the surface of the photoemissive material.

1904: Wilhelm Hallwachs, German physicist, demonstrates a copper and copper oxide semiconductor-junction solar cell.

1934: Clarence Hewlett, American Inventor, patented a cadmium selenide (CdSe) photoelectric cell.

1946: Russell Ohl, American engineer, patented the first modern junction semiconductor solar cell.

1954: The first silicon solar cell was developed at Bell Laboratories by Daryl Chapin, Calvin Souther Fuller and Gerald Pearson.

1958: Ted Mandelkorn of the U.S. Signal Corps Laboratories, creates silicon solar cells, which are more resistant to radiation damage and are better suited for space.

1958: Vanguard I, the first solar powered satellite was launched by the U.S.

1960s: Cadmium telluride photovoltaics were developed by GE, Kodak, Monosolar, Matsushita, and AMETEK.

1970: The first highly effective gallium arsenide (GaAs) solar cells are created by Zhores Alferov and his team in the USSR.

1973: Elliot Berman and Solar Power Corporation (SPC) produced panels at $10 per watt in comparison to $100 per watt only a few years before.

1991: Michael Grätzel, Swiss chemist, invented the dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) (Grätzel Cell).

2007: Nanosolar, American developer of solar power technology, introduces the first cheap (less than $1/Watt) commercial printed CIGS (Copper indium gallium selenide) solar cells.

2008: New record achieved in solar cell efficiency by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) which have set a world record with a photovoltaic device that converts 40.8 percent of the light that hits it into electricity.


Glossaries
Glossary of Photovoltaic Terms - Go Solar Company
Glossary of Terms Commonly Used in the Photovoltaic Industry
Photovoltaic Glossary - Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC)
Solar Lexicon - The Solarserver

Science Fair Projects and Experiments
Solar Cell, Photovoltaics, and Panel Fair Projects
Photovoltaics: K-12 Experiments, Labs, Background Information

General Solar Cell and Photovoltaics Resources
How Solar Panels Work - SaveOnEnergy.com
Solar Tribune: Solar Energy News, Analysis, Education
Solar Calculator - find out the possible output of a photovoltaic system
Swimming Pool Heating - DOE
Solar Panels - NREL
Energy Story - California Energy Commission
Solar Energy Information for Research - Make It Solar
Solar Energy: Energy from the Sun - DOE
Introduction to Photovoltaic Systems - InfinitePower.org
About Photovoltaics - Bot Productions
IEA Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme
How A Photovoltic Cell Works - about.com
Answers for Older Kids - Solar Energy International
Kids Guide To Solar Power At Home - House Plans and More
How Solar Cells Work - physics.org
How Solar Cells Work - HowStuffWorks
Photovoltaics - EERE
Photovoltaic Fundamentals - Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC)
PV Power Resource Site - Mark Fitzgerald, Science Communications, Inc
Photovoltaics: Theory and Practice - The Solarserver


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