You wouldn’t recognise the precursor to the modern solar panel if you saw it, and who knows what they’ll look like in the future?
The precursor to the first solar panel wasn’t really a panel, and it didn’t even use the sun’s light. But the physical processes first observed by French scientist Antoine César Becquerel, in his laboratory in 1839 and then in bars of selenium by Willoughby Smith when checking telegraph cables to be submerged under the Atlantic Ocean, are essentially the same as what happens in solar cells everywhere today.
In a nutshell: light shines onto a semiconductor material, which then produces an electric current – no moving parts, no steam, no turbines.
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