With first of the IN A NUTSHELL series, we would like to present you with a brief history of our future.
Since ancient time humans have been trying to harness the energy from the sun and use it as a power source. It’s a well-known fact that the sun produces an unimaginative amount of energy that the Mother Earth absorbs on daily basis free of charge.
But when and where did we discover that potential?
Well, way back in China, around 2000 BC, when people built houses with openings facing south in the purpose of warming the indoors during winter. Centuries later, in the seventh century BC, hunters used magnifying glass to focus beams of light in order to prepare fire. The technique was later improved by Greeks and Romans who used concentrating mirrors for burning down enemy ships.
Serious scientific work on the subject begun almost 180 years ago with French physicist Edmond Becquerel who in 1839. discovered the photovoltaic effect, the operating principle of the solar or photovoltaic cell. He was only nineteen years old when, while experimenting with silver chloride and platinum electrodes in his father’s laboratory, he created the world’s first solar cell. Simply put, photovoltaic means converting sunlight into electricity.
British physicist William Grylls Adams in his experiments with selenium and platinum demonstrated in 1876. that electricity could be produced from light and that invention paved the way for the modern solar cell.
The development of present-day solar cells human race owes to Calvin Fuller, Gerald Pearson, and Daryl Chapin, scientists from the famous At&T Bell Laboratories. In 1954. they created a silicon solar cell, the first practical means of collecting energy from the sun. The first solar panel was used to power a toy Ferris wheel and these solar cells had the efficiency of 6%.
The first silicon based solar cells were developed in order to power satellites orbiting the earth and invention of the solar battery soon resulted in a 600% improvement in the ability to harness the sun’s power into electricity.
The rest of the story is history – long live the Sun!