When solar cells first came on the scene in the 1950s, they were simple. Now, there are a wide variety of cells and more are coming as technology improves.
An Overview of Solar Cells Through The Years
Solar cells are the basic component of any active system used to convert sunlight into a form of energy. Traditionally, solar cells were used as the key part of panel systems that generated electricity or heat for homes. These days, the technology is used in a wide variety of applications, which means the style of solar cells vary per application.
A traditional solar cell consisted of some very basic pieces. The cell was typically a flat square made up of a glass or plastic panel attached over a crystallized silicone substance. The silicone was imbedded with metal wires. The process worked by having the sun strike the silicone, which kicked off neutrons. The neutrons produced a small electrical current that was collected by the wires. The electricity was in the form of direct current, which had to be converted to usable AC electricity with an inverter. The electricity was then stored in batteries or fed into the grid of the local utility company.