This interactive Flash tutorial shows how photovoltaic cells in solar panels convert sunlight into electrical current. It provides a close-up look at each layer of the basic solar panel, with particular emphasis on how electrons cross over the junction that joins the two silicon layers in the cell. When the concentration of negative and positive charge between the two layers reaches equilibrium, an electric field is produced -- the solar cell is ready to capture photons.
Teachers' Domain is a collection of more than 1,000 free educational resources compiled by researchers and experienced teachers to promote the use of digital resources in the classroom.
active learning, animations, clean energy, conduction, green energy, radiation, solar cell, solar panel
Metadata instance created
August 21, 2012
by Caroline Hall
January 29, 2015
by Caroline Hall
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
4B. The Earth
9-12: 4B/H8. The earth has many natural resources of great importance to human life. Some are readily renewable, some are renewable only at great cost, and some are not renewable at all.
4D. The Structure of Matter
9-12: 4D/H1. Atoms are made of a positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons. The nucleus is a tiny fraction of the volume of an atom but makes up almost all of its mass. The nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons which have roughly the same mass but differ in that protons are positively charged while neutrons have no electric charge.
9-12: 4D/H9b. Some atoms and molecules are highly effective in encouraging the interaction of others.
4E. Energy Transformations
9-12: 4E/H7. Thermal energy in a system is associated with the disordered motions of its atoms or molecules. Gravitational energy is associated with the separation of mutually attracting masses. Electrical potential energy is associated with the separation of mutually attracting or repelling charges.
4G. Forces of Nature
6-8: 4G/M4. Electrical circuits require a complete loop through which an electrical current can pass.
9-12: 4G/H4ab. In many conducting materials, such as metals, some of the electrons are not firmly held by the nuclei of the atoms that make up the material. In these materials, applied electric forces can cause the electrons to move through the material, producing an electric current. In insulating materials, such as glass, the electrons are held more firmly, making it nearly impossible to produce an electric current in those materials.
This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.
Topic: Conservation of Energy Unit Title: Renewable Energy Sources
How does a solar panel convert sunlight into electrical current? This interactive Flash tutorial provides a close-up look at each layer of the basic solar panel to show how electrons are energized when sunlight strikes the cell.
PBS Learning Media: Inside a Solar Cell. (2009). Retrieved February 9, 2016, from WGBH Educational Foundation: http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ate10.sci.phys.energy.solarcell/inside-a-solar-cell/
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%0 Electronic Source %D 2009 %T PBS Learning Media: Inside a Solar Cell %I WGBH Educational Foundation %V 2016 %N 9 February 2016 %9 application/flash %U http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ate10.sci.phys.energy.solarcell/inside-a-solar-cell/
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