by P Spinks

Issue: 24

Journal section: Theme Articles
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Received: 2010-10-06


Two British researchers were the first to convert sunlight into electricity. In 1876, W G Adams and A E Day made the first photovoltaic cell. They used selenium. But 60 years later the cell's efficiency was still only a paltry 1%. Not until the early 1950s did Bell Laboratories, the American electronics company, achieve a conversion efficiency of 6%. Bell used a cell made of monocrystalline silicon, the first of which, launched in 1958, spurred large-scale research and boosted efficiencies to between 15 and 29% (depending on the size of the cell or panel, and whether trials were conducted in the field or in the laboratory)...

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