Solar power cells convert sunlight into electricity, by using the energy of speeding photons to create an electrical current within a solar panel.
Photons are created in the center of the sun by the fusion of atoms. It takes a photon about a million years to work its way to the surface of the sun, but once free it is hurled through space so fast that it reaches earth in just eight minutes- after traveling 93 million miles.
Over the past several decades, scientists have been learning how to harness this ancient energy source with more efficiency to do the work of non-renewable fuels without pollution, noise or radiation, and not subject to the economic whims that drive traditional fuel costs up higher each year.
Solar power panels are made from specially treated semiconductor materials composed mostly of silicon atoms. These panels, also known as photovoltaic modules are constructed with two sheets of silicon manufactured to take advantage of the photons bombarding the earth.
One sheet, called the N-Layer, is constructed of silicon atoms that have "extra" electrons wandering freely within the layer. The other sheet, called the P-Layer, has "missing" electrons, or "holes" that attract free electrons.
The two layers are separated by an electrical field, created by the interaction of atoms.
When a photon of sunlight strikes an atom in either layer, it knocks loose an electron. In the P-Layer, these free electrons easily cross through the electrical field and into the N-Layer. This movement of electrons is only one way. N-Layer electrons are not able to cross the electrical field into the P-Layer. As a result, an excess of free electrons build up in the N-Layer.
A metal wire attached to the N-Layer gives the excess electrons somewhere to go. This circuit ultimately leads back to the P-Layer, depositing free electrons where they can begin the process all over again. Before returning to the P-Layer, the electrons are used to power your home. The movement of electrons with this energy is called an electrical current. As long as the sun is shining, the electrical current in a solar- electric system will continue to power your home.
State LIC #952623