Materials science in solar cell development Page: 2 of 6
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Materials Science in Solar Cell Developments
Materials and Components Technology Division
Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois 60439 USA
Solar cells were developed during the 1950s, primarily at the Bell Telephone and RCA
Laboratories. in the long term, development of renewable energy sources using solar voltaic
convertors can supplement the limited availability of fossil and nuclear fuel, and the
environmental Impacts of such power sources.
The USA and Japan initiated the framework for solar power plants approximately 15 to 20
years ago. Initial solar cell development, and solar power work in the US focused on space power
systems. However, Japan has focused on hydrogen generation using solar heat (~3000°C) or solar
cells for separation of oxygen and hydrogen by electrolysis of water. Hydrogen and oxygen could
be used in mobile energy systems (e.g., automobiles). England, has explored methods to produce
solar cell panels using transparent glass substrates, etc.
The nature of solar cell development is merged with that of the silicon semiconductor
industries, and thus is mainly related to the technology of fabrication of single crystals. The
efficiency of solar cell power plants must be improved considerably for them to become practical.
Renewable energy sources such as the solar voltaic convertor are based on well-developed
industrial technology. Stable solar voltaic convertors would eliminate pollution problems,
stimulate high-technology industries such as communications and aerospace and Increase the
demand for solar energy systems.
At the present time, Siemens Solar Industries is the world leader in the development and
manufacture of high-efficiency photovoltaic (solar electric) products. The history of Siemens
Solar Industries is the history of much of the world’s solar cell development. Photovoltaic
technology was first developed for :■ pace programs. Early space-program cells—which were
brittle and easily broken—were less than 1 in.2 in area and cost $2000 per peak watt. (A peak
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Park, J.H. Materials science in solar cell development, article, April 1, 1992; Illinois. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1063896/m1/2/: accessed February 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.