PV Solar Panels: What They Are and How They Work


The Science Behind Photovoltaics

In addition to the photovoltaic effect, PV solar panel technology also relies on a number of other scientific concepts.


Light absorption and emission are two important processes in solar technology. 


  • Light absorption is the process in which optical energy is converted to internal energy of electrons, atoms, or molecules. 
  • Light emission is the process of converting the internal energy of electrons, atoms, or molecules to optical energy. 


These processes can be used to harvest solar energy, generate light, and study the properties of materials.


Light transmission and reflection, related to absorption and emission, affect how solar energy interacts with Earth’s surface and atmosphere. 


  • Transmission is the passage of solar radiation through a medium, such as air, water, or glass. 
  • Reflection is the bouncing of solar radiation off a surface, such as snow, ice, or metal. 


Both transmission and reflection can change the amount and direction of solar energy which reaches different parts of the surface of our planet. Transmission and reflection are both important for solar technology because they determine how much solar energy can be captured and converted into electricity or heat by various devices, such as PV solar panels. For example, PV solar panels are designed to have high transmission of solar radiation and low reflection so they can absorb as much sunlight and to convert it into electricity.


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