This Flash animation depicts the function of two types of solar cell systems: a silicon-based cell and a dye-sensitized cell. Both systems convert light energy to electrical energy, but the structure is quite different. The silicon-based cell is a solid-state semiconductor that employs two crystalline silicon layers between metal conducting strips. The dye-sensitized cell consists of a layer of titanium dioxide nanoparticles bonded to a layer of organic dye, and immersed in an electrolyte solution. Both systems excite electrons, which are directed to conducting strips and flow through a wire as electric current.
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Editor's Note:For teachers doing a unit on photovoltaics, this animation will help students visualize what happens at the atomic scale as captured photons are converted to electric current in the solar cell. They can also see that there's more than one way to excite an electron!
clean energy, electromagnetic radiation, energy conversion, energy transformation, green energy, light energy, nanotechnology, photon, photon excitation, photovoltaic cell, photovoltaics, solar energy
Metadata instance created
April 19, 2013
by Caroline Hall
August 12, 2013
by Lyle Barbato
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
3. The Nature of Technology
3A. Technology and Science
9-12: 3A/H4. Engineers use knowledge of science and technology, together with strategies of design, to solve practical problems. Scientific knowledge provides a means of estimating what the behavior of things will be even before they are made. Moreover, science often suggests new kinds of behavior that had not even been imagined before, and so leads to new technologies.
4. The Physical Setting
4E. Energy Transformations
9-12: 4E/H1. Although the various forms of energy appear very different, each can be measured in a way that makes it possible to keep track of how much of one form is converted into another. Whenever the amount of energy in one place diminishes, the amount in other places or forms increases by the same amount.
9-12: 4F/H6c. The energy of waves (like any form of energy) can be changed into other forms of energy.
4G. Forces of Nature
9-12: 4G/H4d. Semiconducting materials differ greatly in how well they conduct electrons, depending on the exact composition of the material.
9-12: 4G/H8. The motion of electrons is far more affected by electrical forces than protons are because electrons are much less massive and are outside of the nucleus.
8. The Designed World
8C. Energy Sources and Use
6-8: 8C/M5. Energy from the sun (and the wind and water energy derived from it) is available indefinitely. Because the transfer of energy from these resources is weak and variable, systems are needed to collect and concentrate the energy.
9-12: 8C/H8. Sunlight is the ultimate source of most of the energy we use. The energy in fossil fuels such as oil and coal comes from energy that plants captured from the sun long ago.
11. Common Themes
9-12: 11A/H2. Understanding how things work and designing solutions to problems of almost any kind can be facilitated by systems analysis. In defining a system, it is important to specify its boundaries and subsystems, indicate its relation to other systems, and identify what its input and output are expected to be.
6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
11C. Constancy and Change
9-12: 11C/H12. Even though a system may appear to be unchanging when viewed macroscopically, there is continual activity of the molecules in the system.
6-8: 11D/M3. Natural phenomena often involve sizes, durations, and speeds that are extremely small or extremely large. These phenomena may be difficult to appreciate because they involve magnitudes far outside human experience.
This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.
Topic: Conservation of Energy Unit Title: Energy Transformation
For teachers doing a unit on photovoltaics, this Flash animation will help students visualize what happens at the atomic scale as captured photons are converted to electric current in the solar cell. Toggle between two types of solar cells: the traditional silicon semiconductor and the newer dye-sensitized cell. Kids will see that there's more than one way to excite an electron.
%0 Electronic Source %D 2008 %T NanoSense: Solar Cell Animation %I SRI International %V 2014 %N 24 July 2014 %9 application/flash %U http://nanosense.sri.com/activities/cleanenergy/solarcellanimation.html
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