Solar panel origins

The exact term “photovolataic” spans two cultures.

The term combines two words - photo comes from the greek word phōs, meaning light, while the Italian physicist Volta gives his name to the unit of energy that forms part of this energy process.

It was a French physicist by the name of A.E. Becquerel that first recognized the photovoltaic effect, yet it was not until 1883 that the first photovoltaic cell was constructed by Charles Fritts. He first coated the semiconductor selenium with a thin layer of gold, which formed the junctions. As you can well imagine, by modern day standards it wasn’t the most efficient solar device ever constructed, achieving only a 1% efficiency rating.

It was Albert Einstein who was able to explain the photo electric effect in terms everyone could understand and in 1905 it earnt him the Nobel prize in Physics.

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