Saved By the Sun
Inside a Solar Cell
Launch interactive

Inside a Solar Cell

We've seen them for years on rooftops, atop highway warning signs, and elsewhere, but how many of us know how solar panels actually work? How do the photovoltaic cells that lie at the heart of them turn sunlight ("photo") into electricity ("voltaic")? In this feature, familiarize yourself with the parts of a basic photovoltaic cell, and find out how it goes about harnessing the free energy of the sun.—Stephanie Chasteen and Rima Chaddha

Stephanie Chasteen is a postdoctoral fellow in physics at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. She earned a Ph.D. in physics at UC Santa Cruz, where she researched ways to generate solar energy from semiconducting plastics. Rima Chaddha is an assistant editor of NOVA online.

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