Who Invented Solar Panels?

Charles Fritts, an American inventor, is the creator of first working solar cell. He produced the first photovoltaic cell in the world in 1882. Although he was not the first person to have visualized photoelectric power, he was the first man to build a device that could harness that.

Antoine C├ęsar Becquerel, a French scientist, was the first person to notice photovoltaic power in 1839. He discovered that an electrode, submerged in an electrolyte solution, produced electricity when light fell on it. He and the others tried to build a working solar cell but could not do so because of engineering difficulties. Charles Fritts ultimately found a way around it; he used thin sheets of selenium, instead of silicon which is widely used today, which were covered with gold.

Solar PanelsThe first silicon based solar cell was developed by Russell Ohl, an employee at the Bell Laboratory, in 1941. The mass production, however, took more than a decade and could begin only in 1954. The solar cells of that period were not very efficient; they were converting only 4% of the sunlight into electricity. Developments continued and by the 1980s, we had solar cells which were 20% efficient and the efficiency reached a 24% by the end of the century. Research still continues and some experimental solar panels have already achieved more than 40% efficiency.

Category: Technology

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