Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Photovoltaic Cells

Figure from experiment 25 from Agricultural Science with Vernier

Introduction

Energy produced by the sun is called solar energy. It is produced during nuclear reactions that take place throughout the volume of the sun. The energy travels to Earth in the form of light. Photovoltaic (PV) cells, or solar cells, change the light energy to electrical energy that can be used to power calculators, cars or even satellites. A photovoltaic cell is usually made of a semiconducting material such as silicon. When light strikes the cell, it provides enough energy to move electrons through the cell producing an electric current. A single photovoltaic cell is approximately the size of a fingernail and puts out a very small current when struck by the light. Objects requiring higher currents to operate can be powered by wiring large numbers of photovoltaic cells together.

Items powered by solar energy are said to be using solar power. Streetlights that must operate in the dark store the energy in a battery while the sun is shining and then use the energy at night. Scientists working in remote places rely on solar power to operate their computers and equipment. What things can you think of that are powered by solar energy?

In Part I of this experiment, you will measure the current and voltage produced by a photovoltaic cell when exposed to sunlight. You will calculate the power output of the cell using the relationship

P{\text{ }} = {\text{ }}V{\text{ }}I {\text{Power}} = {\text{voltage}} \times {\text{current}}

You will also calculate the efficiency of the photovoltaic cell when converting the energy from the sun into electrical energy.

In Part II the relationship between the wavelength of the light striking the photovoltaic cell and power output will be investigated.

Objectives

In this experiment, you will

  • Use a Current Probe to measure current output.
  • Use a Voltage Probe to measure voltage output.
  • Use a Light Sensor to measure light intensity.
  • Calculate power output.
  • Calculate efficiency.
  • Investigate the relationship between wavelength of light and power output.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Standards Correlations

See all standards correlations for Agricultural Science with Vernier »

Agricultural Science with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Introduction to Data Collection
2Acids and Bases
3Diffusion through Membranes
4Conducting Solutions
5Osmosis
6Respiration of Sugars by Yeast
7Reflection and Absorption of Light
8Soil pH
9Soil Salinity
10Soil Temperature
11Soil Moisture
12APhotosynthesis and Respiration (CO2)
12BPhotosynthesis and Respiration (O2)
12CPhotosynthesis and Respiration (CO2 and O2)
13Transpiration
14ACell Respiration (CO2)
14BCell Respiration (O2)
14CCell Respiration (CO2 and O2)
15The Greenhouse Effect
16Energy in Food
17AEnzyme Action: Testing Catalase Activity
17BEnzyme Action: Testing Catalase Activity
18ALactase Action
18BLactase Action
19Oxygen Gas and Human Respiration
20Biochemical Oxygen Demand
21Animal Temperature
22Lemon "Juice"
23Ohm's Law
24Energy Content of Fuels
25Photovoltaic Cells
26Wind Power
27Watershed Testing
28Interdependence of Plants and Animals
29Biodiversity and Ecosystems

Experiment 25 from Agricultural Science with Vernier Lab Book

<em>Agricultural Science with Vernier</em> book cover

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