Photovoltaics is the
direct conversion of light into electrical energy through a solar cell.
This happens thanks to the physical photo effect. This effect is completely
free of any hazardous emissions and does not need any moving parts. The
physical effect was originally discovered by the Physicist Becquerel.
Until the discovery of the transistor in 1949, the observed effect was
not given much attention. It was only at the beginning of the semiconductor
era in the early 1950s that Bequerel's findings were used and, in 1954,
the first solar cell was developed from crystalline silicon in the USA.
In the early phase,
the solar cells were mainly used on satellites for energy supply. It was
with the first oil crisis in 1973 that the finite nature of fossil resources
became the focus of public attention. This led to increased research activities
in the field of photovoltaics. The main objective of photovoltaic research
has been to reduce costs in order to contribute to broader dissemination
of this technology.