Photovoltaic solar panels are thin silicone wafers which convert sunlight into electricity. The production of solar panels is more relevant today than ever since they act as energy sources in a wide range of areas, including telecommunications, space industry, medicine, communications, microelectronics, etc. Solar panels in the form of large arrays are used in various satellites and solar power stations.
The history of the creation of solar cells began in the 19th century, and the technology of their production developed surprisingly rapidly. The reason for this was ongoing research in the field of converting solar energy to electrical energy. Back in 1839, Antoine-César Becquerel presented the chemical battery he had created, which, under the influence of the sun, had generated electricity. The first solar battery had an efficiency of only 1%. In other words, only one percent of the sunlight has been converted to electricity.
In 1873 Willoughby Smith discovered the sensitivity of selenium to light, and in 1877 Adams and Day observed that selenium produced electrical current when exposed to light. In 1880, Charles Fritts used gold-plated selenium to produce the first solar cell, which also had an efficiency of 1%. Fritts, however, saw his solar cells as revolutionary. He considered the use of free solar energy as a means of diversifying the energy supply, predicting that the solar panels produced would soon replace existing power plants.
With Albert Einstein’s explanation of the photoelectric effect in 1905, there was hope for higher-efficiency solar cells, but progress was negligible.
In the middle of the 20th century, research in the field of diodes and transistors provided the necessary knowledge for scientists. In 1954, Gordon Pearson, Darryl Chapin, and Cal Fuller produced a 4 percent efficient silicon solar cell. Subsequently, cell efficiency was increased to 15%. Solar panels have been used for the first time in rural areas and remote cities as a power source for the telephone system, where they have been used successfully for many years.
Currently, the solar cells produced cannot fully meet the energy needs, but they have become the main source of energy for the supply of artificial earth satellites. The existing fuel systems and batteries were too heavy at the time. Solar panels have a higher power-to-weight ratio than any other conventional energy source and are more cost-effective.