Solar Panel Physics

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In solar panel physics, we have some light source such as the sun and a solar panel here and the sun will radiate all sort of electromagnetic radiation. Find out more about solar panel physics with help from an applied physics professional in this free video clip.

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Video Transcript

Hello, my name is Walter Unglaub, and this is solar panel physics. In solar panel physics, we have some light source such as the sun and a solar panel here and the sun will radiate all sort of electromagnetic radiation. The energy of this radiation or of the photons if we look at the quantum limit is given by the expression E in terms of the frequency of the light, is equal to Planck's constant h times the frequency new. Or in terms of the wavelength because the speed of light is the sun for all the particles, we have the energy in terms of the wavelength lamda is equal to hc over lamda. Where h again is Planck's constant and c is the speed of light. Lamda is the wavelength of the photons. Now in solar panel physics the material that the solar panels are made of varies so we have usually some metal contact at the bottom here some metal contacts up top and we'll essentially have two different types of materials. N type materials and p type materials. N type is a type of material a semi conductor that has been doped with atoms that have more electrons than the surrounding ones. Conversely p type materials are positively doped materials. Now the physics of the solar panel relies on what Albert Einstein gained a nobel prize for in the early 20th century and that is the photoelectric effect. So the photoelectric effect relies on this idea that the quantum of light, these photons, these small packets of energy can be treated as particles that can knock electrons off of atoms. So you'll have an incoming photon and an atom inside of your material with electrons that orbit the atom and the photon will come in with enough energy to knock one of those electrons loose. When this happens, the negative charged particle will go towards the p type material so you'll be generating what's called an electron hold pair. Every time a photon knocks one of these negatively charged particles off. When you do this, because of this gradient, you'll have an electric field. This electric field will cause charge to flow in particular direction. And when you have charge flowing you can generate a current. So when you have large solar panels and a lot of photons coming in and knocking those electrons off, you can generate a good amount of current that you can use to power or act as a generator for all sorts of electrical equipment. My name is Walter Unglaub and this is solar panel physics.

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