Photoelectric Energy Conversion

Solar energy holds great potential as a source of alternative (renewable) energy. In this lab, we look at how solar cells and P-N junctions work, including how light is converted into electricity. Current-voltage plots are made under a variety of conditions (in both the dark and in the light, and forward and reverse biased). We also calculate some device parameters for our commercial solar cells, including fill factor and efficiency. Students also determine how device performance is affected by the wavelength of light hitting the solar cell.



Equipment Used

  • Small area photovoltaic module (solar cell) with mask
  • White light LED lamp
  • Two DC power supplies
  • Breadboard for circuits
  • Decade (variable) resistor
  • Handheld multimeter
  • Newport monochromator
  • Thor Labs DET100A Silicon Photodiode
  • Validyne data acquisition system and EasySense software
  • 2.2Ω and 100 kΩ standard resistors

Material Tested

  • Commercial silicon solar cell