Jun
26

What Are Solar Panels?

Solar Panels are used to generate electricity - how they work


A solar panel, by definition, is a device that collects and converts solar energy into electricity or heat.

From 1839 to the present, scientists, inventors and major companies have been involved in the curiosity of solar energy. Over one hundred years ago, solar energy was used to heat water in homes. In the following years, these methods have evolved to more and varied means of producing energy. Probably the largest scale production of solar energy has been used in US Space satellites. They are able to produce cells with as much as 28% efficiency. Even Albert Einstein got involved with his thesis on the photoelectric effect and won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his efforts.

Solar panels can be made from many different materials, including, but not limited to: gold, selenium, or silicon.

The basic element of a solar panel is silicon. With no impurities, silicon can be an ideal neutral platform for transmission of electrons. Silicon carries four electrons, but has room for four more, so when silicon atoms come together, each receives four more atoms to achieve it's "ideal" eight valence electrons, which creates a strong bond, but has no positive or negative charge. So, this material can be used on solar panels, or combined with other elements that have a negative or positive charge. For an example, phosphorous has five electrons that it can offer other atoms, when combined with silicon, you get a stable eight electrons with an extra one. The extra one can't leave because it is bonded to the other phosphorous atoms and it is considered to be negatively charged.

You also need a positive charge for electricity to flow. So, by combining silicon with boron, which only contains three electrons, leaving room for one more electron, you get a positive charge. When you sandwich these two plates together with conductive wires running between them, you have a solar panel

When the negative panels are pointed at the sun, photons flood the silicon/phosphorous atoms, and eventually the extra negative electron is knocked out of it's outer band. It is then pulled into the extra spot in the positive band. As the sun's photons keep bombarding and breaking off more electrons, electricity is created, enough to run a small amperage motor. When the electrons are not used or are returned to the air, they can be returned to the negative plate to start the process again.

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