A solar cell converts light energy into electrical energy. This conversion is based on the phenomenon of photovoltaic effect. Sunlight consists of photons with different energy levels depending upon the spectrum from which they belong. When sunlight strikes the surface of the photovoltaic materials it ejects electrons which results in the generation of electricity. This phenomenon is known as photovoltaic effect. This effect was discovered by French physicist Antoine-César Becquerel in 1839.
In theory, solar cells can convert about 30 percent of the incident solar radiation energy into electricity. Commercial cells today, depending on technology, typically have an efficiency of 5 -12 percent for thin films and 13 – 21 percent for crystalline silicon based cells. The first solar cell was built by Charles Fritts in around 1883 using junctions formed by coating selenium (a semiconductor) with an extremely thin layer of gold. The technology was developed long ago and at that time efficiency was below 1 %.
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