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This set of six interactive slides showcases how a typical photovoltaic cell converts solar energy into electricity. Explore the components of a photovoltaic cell, including the silicon layers, metal backing, antireflective coating, and metal conductor strips. Using animations, investigate why the silicon layers are doped with phosphorous and boron, and how an electric field is used to generate electricity from sunlight.

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ngssSee how this Animation supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts
High School: 7 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 2 Cross Cutting Concepts

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Educator should clarify how electrons flow into the electric current (i.e., between slides 5 and 6)

About the Science

  • Students learn how a typical photovoltaic cell converts solar energy into electricity and explore the components of a photovoltaic cell, including the silicon layers, metal backing, anti-reflective coating, and metal conductor strips.
  • Using animations, students investigate why the silicon layers are doped with phosphorous and boron and how an electric field is used to generate electricity from sunlight.
  • Comments from expert scientist: This is a nice illustration of the basic photovoltaic concept in wafer silicon cells.

About the Pedagogy

  • Slideshow is very easy to use as a teaching tool to help students visualize how photovoltaic cells on solar panels work. Link to original and other related articles found at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/how-solar-cell-works.html
  • A supporting background essay and discussion questions are available for this resource.
  • Students may need an introduction to electrons.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Background essay can be printed and downloaded. The interactive can be downloaded and saved as well.
  • There are no actual photos of a PV cell.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Animation supports:


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