60 Years since Creation of Photovoltaic Elements
April 25, 1954, exactly 60 years back, the scientists from the Bell Laboratories companies produced first solar batteries for generating electric energy that were created on silicon basis.
This was invented by the company’s three employees – Gerald Pearson, Daryl Chapin and Kelvin Soulther Fuller. However, the preparation for this invention had been started long time before 1954. Both Russian scientist Alexander Stoletov, German scientist Heinrich Herz and even Albert Einstein had conducted their relevant researches in this sphere.
It has to be noted that in the middle of 1950s the first photovoltaic elements were basically a technological toy. The point is that a solar panel cell that generated only 1 Watt of electric energy used to cost 250 dollars. And here one has to take into account that USD value was much higher than today. Besides, the electric energy cost 100 times less from the common heat electric power station. These batteries’ efficiency equaled 6 percent approximately.
But during the boom for space research the potential of solar batteries was duly appreciated. Just four years later, on March 17, 1958 the USA launched the first satellite with solar batteries, which was called Vanguard-1. Among other things, it is still on the orbit of our planet. Just some months later, on May 15, 1958 USSR launched its Sputnik-3, also with solar batteries.
For the long time solar batteries utilization was limited to space only and had relatively a small set of goals due to the fact that energy produced this way was extremely expensive. 22 years later, in 1977, 1 W cell cost was reduced by 76 dollars.
Nowadays solar photovoltaic elements are used everywhere – on the ground and in space, in retransmission unit of mobile communication in Siberian taiga, and in cheap calculators. One can say that technology prospects are quite optimistic.