History of photovoltaics


History of Photovoltaics

173 Years of Photovoltaic Technology

 Most people are surprised to learn that photovoltaic technology actually dates back over 170 years. The basic science was first discovered in 1839 but the pace of advancement really accelerated in three major thrusts in the 20th century.

1839 -> Experimenting with metal electrodes and electrolyte, nineteen-year-old French physicist Alexandre Edmond Becquerel observes a physical phenomenon allowing light-electricity conversion.

1883 -> Charles Fritts, an American inventor, describes the first solar cells made from selenium wafers.

1888 -> Edward Weston receives first US patent for “solar cell”.

1901 -> Nikola Tesla receives US patent for “method of utilizing, and apparatus for the utlization of, radiant energy”.

Albert Einstein Makes His Mark

It wasn’t until Albert Einstein wrote his 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect: “On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light”.

1905->Albert Einstein publishes paper on theory behind “photoelectric effect” along with paper on relativity theory.

1916->Robert Millikan provided experimental proof of Einstein’s theory on photoelectric effect.

1922->Einstein wins Nobel prize for 1904 paper on photoelectric effect.

The Commercial Solar Age Begins
Bell Laboratories, while working on silicon semiconductors, discovered silicon had photoelectric properties and quickly developed Si solar cells, achieving 6% efficiency and early satellites were the primary use for these first solar cells.

 1954->Bell Labs exhibits first high-power silicon PV cell. The New York Tim es forecasts that solar cells will eventually lead to a source of “limitless energy of the sun”.

1955->Western Electric sells commercial licenses for silicon PV technologies; early successful products include PV-powered dollar bill changers and devices that decoded com puter punch cards and tape.

1966->NASA launches O rbiting Astronom ical O bservatory with a 1-kilowatt PV array.

1974->Japan formulates “Project Sunshine” to fuel PV research and development

 1980->Continued improvements in efficiency and cost enables PV to become a popular power source for consumer electronic devices, such as calculators,watches, radios, lanterns and other small battery charging applications.

2007-> world pv installed capacity reaches to 3GW.

2008->Sunpower achieved PV panel efficiency of 18.5%

2009-> Low cost module introduced to the market by first solar.

 2011->Sharp achieved PV panel efficiency of 32%

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