Text:History of Solar Photovoltaic Cells. Photovoltaics (PV) is the method of converting solar energy into direct current electricity using semiconducting materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect. This timeline provides only a few of the many milestones along the path of the development of PV technology. Text credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photovoltaics Image credit: Dennis Schroeder / NREL
Media: A photo of a man holding two historical pv solar cells framed. Caption: NREL Principal Scientist, Jerry Olson holds one of the first multi junction cells that were developed in the 1980s from his technology
Text: History of Solar Energy. For a thorough look at the origins of solar energy traced all the way back to the 7th century BCE, watch this 15 minute overview produced by SolPower People.
Media: YouTube Video from SolPower People. Caption: This video teaches about innovations in solar power from the 7th century BCE through the 1800 and 1900s and ends with a summary of the current trends in the PV industry up to 2002.
Text: Selenium, 1873. Willoughby Smith discovers the photoconductivity of selenium.
Media: An antique black and white photo of a man. Image credit: Wikipedia. Caption: Willoughby Smith, 1828-1891, an English electrical engineer.
Text: Selenium Wafers, 1883. First solar cells made from selenium wafers, described by Charles Fritts in his article “On a new form of selenium cell, and some electrical discoveries made by its use,” published in the American Journal of Science.
Media: A screenshot of the text from a journal article in 1883. Image credit: American Journal of Science. Caption: Fritts, C. E. (1883). “On a new form of selenium cell, and some electrical discoveries made by its use.” American Journal of Science, (156), 465-472.
Text: First Practical Solar Cell, 1954. Bell Labs: Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson develop the silicon photovoltaic cell with enough efficiency (4.5%) to power everyday electrical equipment.
Media: A photo of a small antique solar cell in a velvet-lined box on top of a giant modern-day solar cell. Image credit: Susannah Pedigo / NREL. Caption: PV cells; old and new. A modern-day single-crystalline solar cell and the first solar cell created by Bell Labs in the 1953/1954 time frame. The image shows the historic contrast between the two cells.
Text: Hoffman Electronics PV Cell Efficiency, 1957-1960. Improving upon its own progress, Hoffman Electronics achieves 14% efficient PV cells in 1960. Hoffman Electronics had achieved 8% efficiency in ’57, 9% in ’58, and 10% in ’59.
Media: A black and white photo of a solar paddle project. Image credit: Manfred von Borks via http://www.gosolarcaliforniainformation.com/ Caption: Explorer 6 launched 1959 by Hoffman Electronics
Text: Nimbus Spacecraft Launch, August 27, 1964. A 470-W PV array, including 10,500 individual panels, was attached to power the 830 pound spacecraft. The Nimbus project was meant to provide improved photographs of cloud conditions on Earth. The first 26 meter antenna for the Satellite Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STADAN) was operational. This antenna in Fairbanks, Alaska was constructed to handle the overwhelming amount of data expected to come from the Nimbus program, one of NASA’s early meteorological satellite programs. Seven satellites were launched in polar orbit from 1964-1978 that helped increase man’s knowledge of Earth’s weather behavior, global energy balance, and oceanic productivity.
Media: A photo of two men in a laboratory working on a solar panel antenna. Image and text courtesy of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption: This antenna in Fairbanks, Alaska was constructed to handle the overwhelming amount of data expected to come from the Nimbus program, one of NASA’s early meteorological satellite programs.
Text: Solar Energy Research Institute, July 5, 1977. The Department of Energy launches the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI), the first federal facility dedicated to researching how to harness the power from the sun.
Media: A photo of a wooden sign in the grass. The sign reads Building 15, SERI Receptionist 1st Floor. Image credit: Warren Gretz, National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Caption: SERI opens in Golden, Colorado in 1977
Text: Eighty-Three PV Cell Systems Installed, 1978-1980. NASA Lewis Research Center installs 83 PV cell systems across the world in the late ‘70s. That included a 3.5-Kilowatt photovoltaic system it installed on the Papago Indian Reservation in southern Arizona; the first village run by solar energy.
Media: A line-drawing illustration labeled Schematic Drawing of a PHotovoltaic Power System. Image credit: Photovoltaic Development and Support Project Status Report by NASA Lewis Research Center. Caption: Schematic drawing of a photovoltaic power system, as published in a progress report in 1980.
Text: Multi Junction Solar Cells, 1979.
Media: A preview of the Wikipedia article titled Multi-junction solar cell.
Text: First Thin-film PV Cell Exceeds 10% Efficiency, 1980. Milestone at the University of Delaware using copper sulfide/cadmium sulfide cells.
Media: A photo of a hand holding a film-like sheet. Image credit: University of Delaware. Caption: Thin-Film Photovoltaics at U. of Delaware.
Text: President George Bush redesignates SERI as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Media: A Google Maps view of the location of NREL's Education Center. Caption: NREL's current campus is in Golden, CO.
Text: Dye Solar Cell, November 14, 2011. Tweet about solar cell efficiency records.
Media: A tweet from the Twitter account named Dye Solar Cell. The tweet reads EPFL: New DSC efficiency record!