So you’re thinking about making your own solar panels or maybejumping on board the solar panel making train and going into businesscrankin’ out the best solar panels in the world. Never mind the$100million investment in a panel factory or the fact that you are going up against some of the largest companies in the world, you’re on amission and solar panels are the game. For those that feel the draw ofthe solar panel siren, the engineers at SkyPower would like to help youby giving you a little direction as to what sort of stuff goes intothese bad boys and how it all comes together to make some of moderntechnologies newest darlings … the solar cell.
Let’s start with the good news … there isn’t really any bad newshere. All of these things are available and none are all thatexpensive. You can hold them in your hands and as long as you don’t heat them to really high temperatures and vaporize them, you can pretty much do what you’d like with them without getting hurt. While it seems thatChina has more of these things lying around under their mountains andfields, the are lots of them also under the dirt here in America, if wesimply wanted to find it and collect it. It’s still cheaper over there,so that’s where a lot of this is found these days.
Take a look at the Periodic Table and you’ll see that these elementsare sort of clustered in one area. This is not a coincidence. One needs a certain type of material to make this photovoltaic thing work and these elements all do it better than the others. No doubt, scientists overthe years have tried using elements from other parts of the table, butfound that they simply didn’t work or worked less well than these andsince none are all that precious (silver is pricey but not that hard tocome by), you find these elements in the panels that we make today.
An interesting element that is not circled is carbon. The reason that this is interesting is that carbon is the basis for all life as we know it on this planet and that life is based upon photosynthesis which isnatures version of photovoltaics. So don’t be surprised if some dayscientists find a way to make solar cells out of carbon and other“living” materials which would then open up a whole bunch more circleson the periodic table above.
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