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Posted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 9:39 am Post subject: Solar cell
Main article: Timeline of solar cells
The photovoltaic effect was experimentally demonstrated first by French physicist Edmond Becquerel. In 1839, at age 19, he built the world's first photovoltaic cell in his father's laboratory. Willoughby Smith first described the "Effect of Light on Selenium during the passage of an Electric Current" in a 20 February 1873 issue of Nature. In 1883 Charles Fritts built the first solid state photovoltaic cell by coating the semiconductor selenium with a thin layer of gold to form the junctions; the device was only around 1% efficient.
In 1888 Russian physicist Aleksandr Stoletov built the first cell based on the outer photoelectric effect discovered by Heinrich Hertz in 1887.
In 1905 Albert Einstein proposed a new quantum theory of light and explained the photoelectric effect in a landmark paper, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.
Vadim Lashkaryov discovered p-n-junctions in Cu \displaystyle _2 _2O and silver sulphide protocells in 1941.
Russell Ohl patented the modern junction semiconductor solar cell in 1946 while working on the series of advances that would lead to the transistor.
The first practical photovoltaic cell was publicly demonstrated on 25 April 1954 at Bell Laboratories. The inventors were Daryl Chapin, Calvin Souther Fuller and Gerald Pearson.
Solar cells gained prominence with their incorporation onto the 1958 Vanguard I satellite.
Improvements were gradual over the next two decades. However, this success was also the reason that costs remained high, because space users were willing to pay for the best possible cells, leaving no reason to invest in lower-cost, less-efficient solutions. The price was determined largely by the semiconductor industry; their move to integrated circuits in the 1960s led to the availability of larger boules at lower relative prices. As their price fell, the price of the resulting cells did as well. These effects lowered 1971 cell costs to some $100 per watt.
Solar cells were first used in a prominent application when they were proposed and flown on the Vanguard satellite in 1958, as an alternative power source to the primary battery power source. By adding cells to the outside of the body, the mission time could be extended with no major changes to the spacecraft or its power systems. In 1959 the United States launched Explorer 6, featuring large wing-shaped solar arrays, which became a common feature in satellites. These arrays consisted of 9600 Hoffman solar cells.
By the 1960s, solar cells were (and still are) the main power source for most Earth orbiting satellites and a number of probes into the solar system, since they offered the best power-to-weight ratio. However, this success was possible because in the space application, power system costs could be high, because space users had few other power options, and were willing to pay for the best possible cells. The space power market drove the development of higher efficiencies in solar cells up until the National Science Foundation "Research Applied to National Needs" program began to push development of solar cells for terrestrial applications.
In the early 1990s the technology used for space solar cells diverged from the silicon technology used for terrestrial panels, with the spacecraft application shifting to gallium arsenide-based III-V semiconductor materials, which then evolved into the modern III-V multijunction photovoltaic cell used on spacecraft.
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