NewEnergyNews: THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 3

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    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 3

    So why didn’t photovoltaics take off...

    For the 60th anniversary of the silicon solar cell, PV60 – History Becoming the Future, is being organized by the Renewables 100 Policy Institute and co-sponsored by the City of Palo Alto on April 18, 2014. To join the celebration, NewEnergyNews will run, on April 18 and 19, eight questions and answers about the silicon solar cell’s history from John Perlin, the author of Let It Shine: The 6,000 Year Story Of Solar Energy.

    3-So why didn’t photovoltaics take off in the nineteenth century?

    American inventor Charles Fritts did put together selenium modules and placed a test array on a New York rooftop in the mid 1880s. He optimistically predicted that soon his modules would compete on the market place with the new electric power plants established by Thomas Edison. Europe’s Edison, Werner von Siemens, called photovoltaics to be “scientifically of the most far-reaching importance,” and the world’s leading physicist of the nineteenth century, James Clerk Maxwell, called Adams and Day’s discovery as “a very valuable contribution to science.” But the science of the nineteenth century lacked the wherewithal to explain the direct transformation of light into electricity. The rejection by Adams and Day of a thermal effect producing the electricity from the selenium bars led most to dismiss the discovery as heretical as the science of the day believed that only heat could produce power. click here for more

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