7A10.40 - Solar Cells and Motors

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Solar Cells and Motors
Electrical Generation
Area of Study:
Electricity & Magnetism
Solar Cells, Motors, Demo Kits, and Voltmeter.

Expose the solar cells to sunlight or very strong artificial lighting.  The motors attached to the cell should run with any of the equipment from the demo kits mounted on them.  The motor may be replaced with a voltmeter to show dependence of voltage on intensity of lighting.

  • Tim Gfroerer, Michael Adenew, Ella Williams, "Sunny With a Chance of Servos: Solar-Powered Arduinos", TPT, Vol. 60, #9, Dec. 2022, p. 724.
  • Girolamo Di Francia, "Conductors, Insulators, and Solar Cells: A Simple Introduction", TPT, Vol. 59, #5, May 2021, p. 363.
  • Gaetano Bonsignore, Simonpietro Agnello, Marco Cannas, Franco Gelardi, and Aurelio Agliolo Gallitto, "High-Efficiency Multi-Junction Photovoltaic Cells in School Physics Laboratory", TPT, Vol. 58, #2, Feb. 2020, p. 126. 
  • Tim Gfroerer, "Circuits in the Sun: Solar Panel Physics", TPT, Vol. 51, #7, Oct. 2013, p. 403.
  • Bernard J. Feldman, "An Introduction to Solar Cells", TPT, Vol. 48, #5, May 2010, p. 306.
  • G. Kortemeyer, "Experimenting With Constant Current and Voltage Sources", TPT, Vol. 48, #1, Jan. 2010, p. 68.
  • M. N. Amsarizadeh, E. F. Walker, and Walter Connolly, "Apparatus for Teaching Physics: Solar Approach to Ohm's Law", TPT, Vol. 27, #3, Mar. 1989, p. 217.
  • Walt Schelder, "Response", TPT, Vol. 25, #7, Oct. 1987, p. 417.
  • J. Gerard Anderson, "Power Line Transmission Problem", TPT, Vol. 25, #7, Oct. 1987, p. 417.
  • Walt Scheider, "A Student Lab Examining the EMF-Internal Resistance Model of a Solar Cell", TPT, Vol. 24, #8, Nov. 1986, p. 488.
  • C. G. Granqvist, "Spectrally Selective Surface Coatings for Energy Efficiency and Solar Applications", TPT, Vol. 22, #6, Sept. 1984, p. 372.
  • Uri Ganiel and Oved Kedem, "Solar Energy - How Much Do We Receive?", TPT, Vol. 21, #9, Dec. 1983, p. 573.
  • J. Christopher Ludlow, "A Chlorophyll Solar Cell", TPT, Vol. 20, #4, Apr. 1982, p. 230.
  • Phillip F. Schewe, "Current Physics Research Part II", TPT, Vol. 18, #7, Oct. 1980, p. 519.
  • Arthur O. Stinner, "A Solar House for Northern Latitudes", TPT, Vol. 16, #1, Jan. 1978, p. 25.
  • William G. Pollard, "Prospects for Solar Electricity", TPT, Vol. 15, #7, Oct. 1977, p. 391.
  • Milo Oppegard, "Down to Earth Solar Energy Measurement", TPT, Vol. 13, #3, Mar. 1975, p. 162.
  • Matt Young, "Research Frontier: Solar Energy", TPT, Vol. 12, #4, Apr. 1974, p. 243.
  • Peter E. Glaser, "Solar Energy — An Option for Future Energy Production", TPT, Vol. 10, #8, Nov. 1972, p. 443.
  • F. Herrmann and P. Würfel, "The Semiconductor Diode as a Rectifier, a Light Source, and a Solar Cell: A Simple Explanation", AJP, Vol. 74, #7, July 2006, p. 591.
  • A. Khoury et al., "Solar Cells: A Laboratory Experiment on the Temperature Dependence of the Open-Circuit Voltage", AJP, Vol. 52, #5, May 1984, p. 449.
  • P. Mialhe and J. Charette, "Experimental Analysis of I-V Characteristics of Solar Cells", AJP, Vol. 51, #1, Jan. 1983, p. 68.
  • D. W. Kammer and M. A. Ludington, "Laboratory Experiments with Silicon Solar Cells", AJP, Vol. 45, #7, July 1977, p. 602.
  • Prashant K. Jain, "Physical Models for Energy-Converting Nanofluids", Physics Today, Vol. 71, #8, Aug. 2018, p. 10.
  • Natasha E. Hjerrild and Robert A. Taylor, "Boosting Solar Energy Conversion with Nanofluids", Physics Today, Vol. 70, #12, Dec. 2017, p. 40.
  • R. Mark Wilson, "Healing Defects in Perovskite Films", Physics Today, Vol. 70, #11, Nov. 2017, p. 23.
  • Xinming Li and Hongwei Zhu, "The Graphene-Semiconductor Schottky Junction", Physics Today, Vol. 69, #9, Sept. 2016, p. 46.
  • Pulickel Ajayan, Philip Kim, and Kaustav Banerjee, "Two-Dimensional Van Der Waals Materials", Physics Today, Vol. 69, #9, Sept. 2016, p. 38.
  • R. Mark Wilson, "Tobacco Cells Infused with Carbon Nanotubes Feel the Heat", Physics Today, Vol. 68, #6, June 2015, p. 15.
  • Johanna Miller, "Molecular Vibrations Offer Control Over Electron Transfer", Physics Today, Vol. 68, #3, Mar. 2015, p. 10.
  • Johanna Miller, "Unusual Defect Physics Underlies Perovskite Solar Cells' Exceptional Performance", Physics Today, Vol. 67, #5, May 2014, p. 13.
  • R. Mark Wilson, "Nanowire Solar Cells Made Efficient", Physics Today, Vol. 66, #3, Mar. 2013, p. 15.
  • Philip F. Schewe, "Plasmon-Assisted Solar Cells", Physics Today, Vol. 60, #6, June 2007, p. 27.
  • George W. Crabtree and Nathan S. Lewis, "Solar Energy Conversion", Physics Today, Vol. 60, #3, Mar. 2007, p. 37.
  • Karen H. Kaplan, "Portugal Builds on Renewables Effort with $78 M Solar Plant", Physics Today, Vol. 59, #9, Sept. 2006, p. 27.
  • Yong Wang, M. Ibrahim Dar, Luis K. Ono, Taiyang Zhang, Miao Kan, Yawen Li, Lijun Zhang, Xingtao Wang, Yingguo Yang, Xingyu Gao, Yabing Qi, Michael Grätzel, and Yixin Zhao, "Thermodynamically Stabilized β-CsPbI3–Based Perovskite Solar Cells with Efficiencies >18%", Science, Vol. 365, #6453, Aug. 2019, p. 591.
  • Yanbo Wang, Tianhao Wu, Julien Barbaud, Weiyu Kong, Danyu Cui, Han Chen, Xudong Yang, and Liyuan Han, "Stabalizing Heterostructures of Soft Perovskite Semiconductors", Science, Vol. 365, #6453, Aug. 2019, p. 687.
  • Shuang Yang, Shangshang Chen, Edoardo Mosconi, Yanjun Fang, Xun Xiao, Congcong Wang, Yu Zhou, Zhenhua Ya, Jingjing Zhao, Yongli Gao, Filippo De Angelis, and Jinsong Huang, "Stabilizing Halide Perovskite Surfaces for Solar Cell Operation with Wide-Bandgap Lead Oxysalts", Science, Vol. 365, #6452, Aug. 2019, p. 473.
  • Jinhui Tong, Zhaoning Song, Dong Hoe Kim, Xihan Chen, Cong Chen, Axel F. Palmstrom, Paul F. Ndione, Matthew O. Reese, Sean P. Dunfield, Obadiah G. Reid, Jun Liu, Fei Zhang, Steven P. Harvey, Zhen Li, Steven T. Christensen, Glenn Teeter, Dewei Zhao, Mowafak M. Al-Jassim, Maikel F. A. M. van Hest, Matthew C. Beard, Sean E. Shaheen, Joseph J. Berry, Yanfa Yan, and Kai Zhu, "Carrier Lifetimes of >1 μs in Sn-Pb Perovskites Enable Efficient All-Perovskite Tandem Solar Cells", Science, Vol. 364, #6439, May 2019, p. 475.
  • Robert F. Service, "Solar Cell Built for Two Looks Sweet", Science, Vol. 364, #6436, Apr. 2019, p. 116.
  • Ligang Wang, Huanping Zhou, Junnan Hu, Bolong Huang, Mingzi Sun, Bowei Dong, Guanghaojie Zheng, Yuan Huang, Yihua Chen, Liang Li, Ziqi Xu, Nengxu Li, Zheng Liu, Qi Chen, Ling-Dong Sun, and Chun-Hua Yan, "A Eu3+-Eu2+ Ion Redox Shuttle Imparts Operational Durability to Pb-I Perovskite Solar Cells", Science, Vol. 363, #6424, Jan. 2019, p. 265.
  • Qifeng Han, Yao-Tsung Hsieh, Lei Meng, Jyh-Lih Wu, Pengyu Sun, En-Ping Yao, Sheng-Yung Chang, Sang-Hoon Bae, Takuya Kato, Veronica Bermudez, and Yang Yang, "High-Performance Perovskite/Cu(In,Ga)Se2 Monolithic Tandem Solar Cells", Science, Vol. 361, #6405, Aug. 2018, p. 904.
  • Deying Luo, Wenqiang Yang, Zhiping Wang, Aditya Sadhanala, Qin Hu, Rui Su, Ravichandran Shivanna, Gustavo F. Trindade, John F. Watts, Zhaojian Xu, Tanghao Liu, Ke Chen, Fengjun Ye, Pan Wu, Lichen Zhao, Jiang Wu, Yongguang Tu, Yifei Zhang, Xiaoyu Yang, Wei Zhang, Richard H. Friend, Qihuang Gong, Henry J. Snaith, and Rui Zhu, "Enhanced Photovoltage for Inverted Planar Heterojunction Peroskite Solar Cells", Science, Vol. 360, #6396, June 2018, p. 1442.
  • Robert F. Service, "See-Through Solar Cells Could Power Offices", Science, Vol. 360, #6396, June 2018, p. 1386.
  • Seong Sik Shin, Eun Joo Yeom, Woon Seok Yang, Seyoon Hur, Min Gyu Kim, Jino Im, Jangwon Seo, Jun Hong Noh, and Sang Il Seok, "Colloidally Prepared La-Doped BaSnO3 Electrodes for Efficient, Photostable Perovskite Solar Cells", Science, Vol. 356, #6334, Apr. 2017, p. 167.
  • Xiong Li, Dongqin Bi, Chenyi Yi, Jean-David Décoppet, Jingshan Luo, Shaik Mohammed Zakeeruddin, Anders Hagfeldt, and Michael Grätzel, "A Vacuum Flash–Assisted Solution Process for High-Efficiency Large-Area Perovskite Solar Cells", Science, Vol. 353, #6294, July 2016, p. 58.
  • Peter Vigneron, "Can This Mineral Power the Planet?", Popular Science, Vol. 286, #9, Sept. 2014, p. 36.
  • Lillian Steenbilk Hwang, "How It Works: The Highest-Efficiency Solar Cell", Popular Science, Vol. 286, #4, Apr. 2014, p. 43.
  • Amber Williams, "This Truck Keeps The World's Largest Solar Plant Squeaky Clean", Popular Science, Vol. 285, #8, Aug. 2013, p. 32.
  • Dave Prochnow, "A Six-Pack of "Light" Beer", Popular Science, Vol. 280, #10, Oct. 2008, p. 82.
  • "E-340. Thermoelec. Magnet & Solar Cube", DICK and RAE Physics Demo Notebook, 1993.
  • "H-188. Radiometer and Solar Cube", DICK and RAE Physics Demo Notebook, 1993.
  • Robert Ehrlich, "L.1. Solar-Powered Fan", Turning the World Inside Out and 174 Other Simple Physics Demonstrations, p. 146.
  • Cy Tymoney, "Solar Power Generator", Sneakiest Uses for Everyday Things, p. 100 - 101.
  • Mark Davids, et al., "Physics of the Solar Cell", Teaching about Lightwave Communications, 1994, p. 5-7 - 5-9.
  • Yaakov Kraftmakher, "5.4. Photovoltaic Effect", Experiments and Demonstrations in Physics, ISBN 981-256-602-3, p. 309 - 316.
  • Simon Quellen Field, "A Solar Cell You Can Make in Your Kitchen", Gonzo Gizmos, p. 76 - 81.
  • R. W. Buckley, Edited by C. Isenberg and S. Chomet, "School Made Solar Cells", Physics Experiments and Projects for Students, Vol. 1, p. 100 - 102.
  • Neil A. Downie, "39. Wet Solar Cell", Ink Sandwiches, Electric Worms and 37 Other Experiments for Saturday Science, p. 313 - 320.
  • Tom Petruzzellis, "Light Detection Devices", Electronic Sensors for the Evil Genius, p. 26 - 28.
  • Curt Suplee, "The Photoelectric Effect", Everyday Science Explained, National Geographic, p. 124 - 125.
  • Curt Suplee, Managing Light for Fun and Profit", Everyday Science Explained, National Geographic, p. 104 - 105.
  • Curt Suplee, "Heat and Weather", Everyday Science Explained, National Geographic, p. 70 - 71.
  • "Largest Solar Energy Roof", Guinness Book of World Records, 2003, p. 65.
  • William G. Soper, "Searching for Energy with the Solar Eyeball".
  • Julius Sumner Miller, Q180 & A180, Millergrams II – Some More Enchanting Questions for Enquiring Minds, p. 47 & 100.
  • Forrest M. Mims III, "Solar Cell Projects", Electronic Sensor Circuits & Projects, p. 97.
  • Forrest M. Mims III, "Solar Cell", Electronic Sensor Circuits & Projects, p. 104.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.