How to make a Solar Panel


What materials do you need to make a solar panel?

You’re watching keystone science and in today’s episode. We’re, going to show you how to make your very own solar panel [ Music ]. Now a bit of a disclaimer before you guys begin don’t expect to be powering really anything with the solar panel.

Truly, it’s more made for the demonstration of how they actually work being that we’re, creating our very own semiconductor cuprous oxide, in fact, to add kind of cool points. What we’re doing. This is one of the very first materials that was demonstrated with the photoelectric effect.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is take and clean two identically sized pieces of copper. Now the sizing really truly doesn’t matter for this, as long as it can fit reasonably onto a stove top.

Since we’re going to need to heat it up in order for the solar panel to work, we only need the cuprous oxide layer on one of the plates, and so that does happen naturally over time with things like oxidation, however, to increase the Speed of that oxidation because I don’t want to wait for a long long time.

We’re, going to go ahead and apply some heat to it, and so, in order to do that, I’m, going to take one of the plates and put them on top of the burner. And then I’m. Going to turn the burner all the way up on high heat and leave it there for probably around 40 minutes and after which we shouldn & # 39, t, see a thick black layer form on top of it, as it begins to oxidize and form that thick Cuprous oxide layer, now it’s only been a minute or so, but you can already see the oxidation process taking place on the plate as it changes colors.

Okay, it & # 39. S now been on the burner for around 40 minutes and, as you can see, it has a thick black layer on top of it. So this is very good. However, now we’re, going to go ahead and want to turn off the burner and we’re, going to let it cool as slowly as possible.

This way, hopefully it’ll, become very brittle and the top layer will crack off, which is what we want, because the Cooper’s. Oxide layer is just right beneath that black layer. Now that it’s done cooling.

We’re left with something like this now. As you can see, we do have little bits of that red, cuprous oxide layer sitting around in here. However, we don’t have much, and so you can go ahead and take this and carefully wash off as best you can, the black layer that’s above, however, be very, very careful when you do this, because that red Cooper’s, oxide layer is extremely delicate and extremely thin, so excessive scrubbing could scrub it off, thus ruining your solar panel, so yeah just be very careful.

I’m doing it now that we have our homemade cuprous oxide semiconductor layer done. We just need to make an electrolyte solution in order to do that. I’m, going to take container and fill it up with some water.

Then I can follow that up by grabbing some baking soda and adding in a few spoonfuls and then go ahead and stir it up till it looks more transparent. This means that your solution is more or less completely dissolved.

Now that we have our electrolyte solution complete, we can go ahead and add in our cuprous oxide plate and we can add in our regular copper plate on the other side. And finally, the very last thing that we need to do is connect up an alligator clip to one plate and an alligator clip to the other plate.

I’m outside now on a decently sunny day. I’m, not sure exactly how bright it is outside, because, although I do have this off foot-candles meter here, it is maxing out, so I assumed it to be somewhere from around 450 foot candles to 500 foot candles, probably somewhere in that range anyways.

I have this microamps meter here because it turns out the current generated is so low that my multimeter can’t pick it up, so I need this precise instrument to do it, and so I have this wire over here connected up to our cuprous Oxide plates and then I’m, going to take this wire and connect it up to our copper plate, and that should complete the circuit, and you can see when I do that.

You can see the needle moving upwards, and so now it’s getting around the 49 range yeah. So right now our solar panel is generating around 49 micrograms and just to show that it is happening due to a solar process.

If I cover the solar plate with my shadow here, you can see that the current is dropping substantially and then I can put that back and you can see it rises up so again, although this is a very small amount of energy, hey it’S working: it is generating enough current to move this needle up and down just purely by the power of the Sun and completely done by ourselves, which is pretty darn cool.

Now we can compare our DIY solar panel to the numbers of something like this. This guy generates around 100 watts and has a solar absorbance rate of around 22 %. That sounds like a very low percentage, but for solar panels it’s, actually quite good.

It’s actually more average, but it’s. Definitely Aeons better than the solar panel that we made like a lot a lot better. Now I should give a quick shoutout, so this polar panel was donated by the company Moo, who I’ll, have their link in the description it’s kind of interesting because it’s very flexible and it’s pretty lightweight, it probably weighs around 5 pounds so that’s, a very interesting solar panel.

Normally, I only see them very bulky, very big, very stiff, but this guy is very interesting on the side. Now, if you guys have any project ideas for a solar panel like this, let me know in the description and planning on using it to build an Arduino based solar tracker where we can move it, so it always stays facing the Sun, as recommended to me by One of you, fellow commenters, so now that we know how to make a solar panel, let’s, go ahead and learn how a solar panel functions.

The reason that this works is because cuprous oxide is a semiconductor. This basically means that it’s in a sort of limbo state between not letting electrons flow and letting them flow freely. The atoms within a semiconductor have something known as a band gap.

Basically, this is the gap that separates the atoms on the outer shells which are able to move freely, and the admins are on the inner shells which are grasped very tightly by the atom and held in place.

Now as an electron gains energy. It moves further and further away from that nucleus, and so basically it hits the point to the bandgap where, if it has enough energy, it’ll jump over to the side of the bandgap and be able to move freely.

Conversely, when electrons lose energy, they go further and further towards the atom’s nucleus and similarly, when they hit the bandgap, they either go over or they don’t know it’s, our semiconductor atoms sitting there.

All we need is a little bit of energy and thus comes in the photon. Photons are basically like little quantized energy packets, and so when they come down and smash into the atom, the electrons absorb that energy and move up to a higher energy level.

Now, if this is enough to get it across the band gap, then the electrons are able to move freely into the circuit and they travel from the copper plate into our electrolyte solution into the other copper plate and then go through the wire and are now going Through our multimeter, where it’s enough to have a little bit of work done so that we can measure the current, although be it very small, like you saw in micro amps, which is a very small unit, which I & # 39.

Ll stress more in a moment and then back around returning back into the semiconductor atoms. Due to the resonance structures created by the electron orbitals around the atom different materials are able to absorb different frequencies of light better than others.

I totally want to dive too deep into why this happens, because the kind of deals with quantum mechanics – and that would be too long for the scope of this video and so basically in simple terms, think of it think of me pulling a spring.

If I were to add a force to it at the same frequency that it was going up and down at then, the force would just grow and grow and grow and grow and grow, and it would just become more and more motion.

However, if I were to add something against that frequency that it’s kind of oscillating at then, it would dampen it and yeah. Basically, if we can hit it at the same frequency, its resonant resonating at then, the absorption will be that much greater.

Now, of course, due to this Cooper & # 39, s, oxide also does have its very own absorption spectrum. So let’s, go ahead and take a look at that now, my Y axis, I have the absorption rate, while my x-axis, I have the wavelength, two nanometers, and so cuprous oxide has an absorption spectrum.

That kind of looks like this now. This high point here is 258 nanometers. Now I did represent it with nanometers here, but since I was using frequency before in case you don’t know, frequency is simply equal to the speed of light divided by the wavelength.

Now, if you’re using this formula, the wavelength that we’re going to use is going to be 258 times 10 to the negative. Ninth. The reason that we have the times 10 to the negative ninth is because we’re, going to keep it in two meters and nanometers are already times ten to the negative ninth, and so that keeps it in the same unit as the speed of Light, which is in meters per second and so through dimensional analysis.

It is just good to make sure your units are always the same. Otherwise your calculations will come out incorrect. Now. This Friesen alone is one of the many reasons why this has a solar panel is so inefficient.

This is because this is not within the visible light spectrum. In fact, it’s, deep, very deep within the UV spectrum, which ranges from about 100 nanometers. Do probably around 400 nanometers, and so with this materials, peak absorption rate being so far within the UV spectrum.

Very few photons that are within our atmosphere actually have that wavelength. In fact, many are much higher than that. Hence why we are optimized to see visible light because it’s. The most plentiful, a lot of the UV is actually absorbed inside the upper parts of the atmosphere, similar processes like this.

However, we can now apply a test to this, and so what I’m going to do is I’m, going to take a flashlight with white LEDs and I’m going to feed it the same amount of electricity As I’m, going to feed a flashlight with UV LEDs, and so ideally, we should see that the UV LEDs will generate more electricity on our solar panel.

Even though they & # 39. Ll will be producing the same amount of energy output or at least that they’ll, be consuming the same amount of watts. Obviously, the efficiency within each of the LEDs are going to vary, and so this is not really a completely solid test, but if we can see substantial evidence, then we & # 39.

Ll see evidence for this, and so let’s go ahead and take that and shine down Taurus cuprous oxide all right. So here the test is set up, so you can see which one is going to producing more energy when shown on to the cuprous oxide plate, the visible light or the ultraviolet light both of the flashlights are using around the same amount of power and watts so That should be relatively controlled, so yeah, the current micro amps it’s.

Drawing in the room is around six point three, so that’s, just a control that shouldn’t affect these experiment. So if I let’s, go ahead and start by shining the visible light flashlight onto the plate, we’ll just place it down here as a standardized spot, and we’ll, let needle rise on up all right.

It looks like it has stopped at the 32 micro amp mark. So let’s, go ahead and take that off all right. It’s back to near ambience, so putting it on there. We go it’s. In the same position, so we should get the diffraction relatively the same, and we can see that the ultraviolet light is definitely generating more.

In fact, right now, oh whoops yeah. In fact, right now it is very much above what the meter can have. I imagine it would be around fifty five micrograms. I would switch it over to the 200 meter. However, I do believe that that one’s not calibrated correctly, because you can see when I switch it over it’s only going to go up to around that point, and that’s, something even to the fifty and So I’m fairly certain that the 201 is not calibrated correctly, but the 51 is and we can see that it’s maxing out and it is slowing down as it approaches there.

So that’s. Why? I do assume it to be somewhere around fifty to let’s, say sixty five micrograms, but the general point that I’m trying to make here is that this ultraviolet light does end up producing more energy through this cuprous oxide plate Than the visible light does due to its absorption spectrum that we looked at before, if you guys want to wait to learn more about solar panels and even various other topics in science, math logic and plenty of other subjects, then there’s really no Way better to do it too than brilliant org.

Not only were they kind enough to sponsor this video making it so that I am more able to make videos for you guys, but they also have a very good service that makes basically learning all these concepts feel more like a game.

In fact, the first link in the description will take you to a page where you can do a little quiz on solar energy to see what you know so go ahead and click on that and give it a try and again they don’t.

Only have solar energy, they have plenty of other topics, so you guys should definitely give it a try. I’ve, been using it for about the past three months, and I’ve enjoyed practically every moment that I’ve been on it.

It & # 39. S really is quite a bit of fun. So, thank you again to brilliant org for making this video possible. You guys should really definitely go check them out. You have nothing to lose from checking them out, so really go hit it up and see if you enjoy it.

Thank you guys, all so much for watching the video. If you enjoyed it or learned something new. I’d, really really appreciate it. If you’d hit that thumbs up button as it really does help the channel quite a bit now again, although the solar panel that we built today is not at all anything that you can use reliably to charge or power, anything to be honest, Unless you have a huge huge area of it, which is just completely impractical, I hope the proof of concept is something that will help you, as is a very important proof of concept in of itself anyways.

That is all I have for you this week. So please remember to be safe and have a wonderful day. You’re watching Keystone Science, and I’m here with Tanner tech, hello, business standards. Nick today, we’re, going to be showing you how to build an RF interference: amplifier [, Music ], you [, Music, ]