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.
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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

http://www.physlink.com//estore/cart/SunMateSolar05V1A.cfm

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

http://scientificsonline.com/product.asp?pn=3039808&bhcd2=1137800270

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

http://www.arborsci.com/detail.aspx?ID=838

The Teachers Source: Silicon Solar Cell .9V / 400mA

http://www.teachersource.com/catalog/index.html  (then Search for solar cells)

1 ohm resistors:

Radio Shack

http://www.radioshack.com/search/index.jsp?kw=1+ohm+resistor&kwCatId=2032058&fbc=1&f=PAD%2FProduct+Type%2FPower+Resistors&fbn=Type%2FPower+Resistors

Newarkinone

http://www.newarkinone.com/NewarkWebCommerce/newark/en_US/endecaSearch/partDetail.jsp;jsessionid=3FAPVGW3M0M4WCXDUY2SFFYK2OTCIIV1?SKU=02F1155&N=0

0.1 ohm resistors:

Newarkinone

http://www.newarkinone.com/NewarkWebCommerce/newark/en_US/endecaSearch/partDetail.jsp;jsessionid=DZ4QR5QCC1AHQCXDUY2SFFYK2OTCIIV1?SKU=01H0005&N=0

0.2 ohm resistors:

Newarkinone

http://www.newarkinone.com/NewarkWebCommerce/newark/en_US/endecaSearch/partDetail.jsp;jsessionid=JY4IT1YJE5DT4CXDUY2SFFYK2OTCIIV1?SKU=06H0007&N=0

Ni-Chrome resistance wire:

18 gauge  -  0.088 ohms/cm

http://www.skycraftsurplus.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=819

21 guage  -  0.177 ohms/cm

http://www.skycraftsurplus.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=820

http://www.mcmowdirect.com/nichrome-wire-gauge-p-812.html