Friday, September 3, 2010

Solar Cells History

The term "photovoltaic" comes from the Greek φῶς (phōs) meaning "light", and "voltaic", meaning electric, from the name of the Italian physicist Volta, after whom a unit of electro-motive force, the volt, is named. The term "photo-voltaic" has been in use in English since 1849.

The photovoltaic effect was first recognized in 1839 by French physicist A. E. Becquerel. However, it was not until 1883 that the first solar cell was built, by
Charles Fritts, who coated the semiconductor selenium with an extremely thin layer of gold to form the junctions.

The device was only around 1% efficient. Subsequently Russian physicist Aleksandr Stoletov built the first solar cell based on the outer photoelectric effect (discovered by Heinrich Hertz earlier in 1887). Albert Einstein explained the photoelectric effect in 1905 for which he received the Nobel prize in Physics in 1921. Russell Ohl patented the modern junction semiconductor solar cell in 1946, which was discovered while working on the series of advances that would lead to the transistor.

The highly efficient solar cell was first developed by Chapin, Fuller and Pearson in 1954 using a diffused silicon p-n junction. In the past four decades, remarkable progress has been made, with Megawatt solar power generating plants having now been built

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