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Photovoltaic Power
This nOde last updated January 20th, 2004 and is permanently morphing...
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photovoltaic cell or internal linksolar cell, SEMICONDUCTOR diode that converts internal linklight to internal linkelectric current. When light strikes the exposed active surface, it knocks electrons loose from their sites in the crystal. Some of the electrons have sufficient energy to cross the DIODE junction and pass through an external circuit. Because the current and voltage obtained from these devices are small, they are usually connected in large series-parallel arrays. Practical photovoltaic cells are currently about 10 to 15% efficient. Although cells constructed from indium phosphide and gallium arsenide are, in principle, more efficient, silicon-based cells are generally less costly. Solar cells have long been used to provide electric power for spacecraft. As costs have decreased, they have seen greater use as energy sources for irrigation pumps in remote areas, oil drilling platforms, and mountaintop microwave relay stations, and for small devices such as hand-held CALCULATORS. 

Terence McKenna - the force will be with you...always The Archaic Revival by Terence McKenna

"Photovoltaic power.  Appreciation of photovoltaic power is part of the shift toward an appreciation of the elegance of the solid state that plants possess.  Plants practice photosynthetic solutions to the problems of power acquisition.  Compared to the internal linkwater or animal-turned wheels, which are the Ur-metaphors for power production in the human world, the solid-state internal linkquantum-molecular miracle that involves dropping a internal linkphoton of sunlight into a molecular device that will kick out an electron capable of energetically participating in the life of a cell seems like extravagant internal linkscience fiction.  Yet this is, in fact, the principle upon which photosynthesis operates.  While the first solid-state devices arrived on the human cultural frontier in the late 1940's, solid-state engineering had been the preferred design approach of plants for some two thousand million years.  High efficiency photovoltaics could today meet the daily needs of most people for electricity.  It is the running of basic industries on solar energy that has proved difficult.  Perhaps this is nature's way of telling us that we aspire to too much manufacturing."

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