While Albert Einstein is most widely known for his “Theory of Relativity” (E = mc2) defining the relationship between matter and energy; he actually received the Nobel Prize for Physics for “The Photoelectric Effect.”  At the turn of the 20th century there were two schools of thought defining the nature of light.  One defined light as a wave and the other as a particle and there was ample evidence to support both theories. In 1921 Einstein received the Nobel Prize for explaining that light is a particle that behaves as a wave.

As the Father of Quantum Mechanics, among the many inventions that resulted from his Nobel winning discovery was the Photovoltaic Solar Cell.  To make a Photovoltaic Solar Cell we start with Silicon, the second most abundant element on earth.  Silicon occurs in nature as Silicon Dioxide in mountains of common quartz or beach sand.  To extract pure inert Silicon from Silicon Dioxide we use a high energy consuming vacuum furnace that reaches temperatures  over 1,500° C to melt Silicon and release the Oxygen.  We then take that pure inert Silicon and we either draw it out into thin ribbons or slice rods poured from molten silicon into thin wafers. 


 Now with a variety of doping agents we charge these inert wafers positive or negative.  We then stack a negatively charged wafer on top of a positively charged wafer.  Between the two wafers we insert strands of highly conductive noble metal like Gold or Platinum.  As photons of sunlight which are negatively charged particles like electrons strike the negatively charged wafer, it’s like the cue ball striking the rest of the billiard balls on a pool table. 

As these electrons scatter, they get drawn to the positive wafer because at the atomic level everything is drawn to neutrality. The space between the two wafers is called the PN Junction where the grid of highly conductive noble metal is waiting to trap these electrons on wire.  The flow of electrons on a wire is called electricity.  That’s simply how we turn sunlight into electricity. 


"I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that."            

Thomas Edison 1931


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To Contact Stephen Freelight: tawa@cox.net                              Founding Sponsor 2011



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