This is a basic expertiment to determine the efficency of a small silicon solar cell. This experiment is appropriate for high school or community college level students.

The experiment requires a small low cost silicon solar cell, a voltmeter, low value resistors and/or resistance wire, and sunshine.

This small low cost silicon solar cell is made from broken pieces of larger commercial silicon solar cells.
A Ni-Chrome resistance wire stretched along a meter stick is a great low cost way to make a variable resistor. Aligator clips can use for the connections.
Click this link for a Microsoft Word version of the experiment.

Click this link for a PDF version of the experiment.

Below you will find links to vendors that will supply solar cells, low value resistors and resistance wire.

Links to Vendors:

Solar Cells:

The Science e-store:  .5V / 1000mA

Edmund Scientifics Silicon Solar Cells:  .45V/ 100mA – 1000mA

Arbor Scientific: Silicon Solar Cell .5V / 500mA

The Teachers Source: Silicon Solar Cell .9V / 400mA  (then Search for solar cells)

1 ohm resistors:

Radio Shack


0.1 ohm resistors:


0.2 ohm resistors:


Ni-Chrome resistance wire:

18 gauge  -  0.088 ohms/cm

21 guage  -  0.177 ohms/cm