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Projects >> Education >> Solar Cell Kits >> Components

Components of the Solar Cell Procedure

We developed and produced the prototype for solar cell kits that are now distributed (internationally) by the non-profit organization, the Institute of Chemical Education, ICE.

Normal glass can be coated with a thin layer of SnO:F to make it conductive while allowing it to remain transparent. One can also purchase this glass pre-coated. Ten pieces of SnO:F coated glass are provided in the ICE solar cell kit, along with many of the other essential materials. This kind of glass is used in electronics (e.g. liquid crystal displays), and in thin film solar cells, as well as in heat reflective energy efficient windows for buildings. ITO glass can also be used, but is not recommended due to its higher cost and lower thermal stability. The SnO:F coated glass is not expensive or hard to find elsewhere. For example, it can be obtained from Pilkington, Libbey Owens Ford or Flachglass, or from:

Hartford Glass Co., Inc. c/o Mike Reidy
P.O. Box 613
Hartford City, IN 47348 USA
Telephone: 765-348-1282
Fax: 765-348-5435
via e-mail: hartfordglass@live.com

Ordering information for the conductive glass is as follows: dimensions 25 x 25 mm; TEC 15; 2.3 or 3 mm thickness. If that is unavailable, order TEC 15 or TEC 7 with the same dimensions and either thickness.

For the first part of the solar cell procedure, one identifies which side of the glass is conductive and then one coats that side with a thin overlayer of semiconducting Nanocrystalline TiO particles deposited from a suspension (or slurry) of TiO and water. The water-based suspension of Titanium Dioxide particles can be made by the teacher, teacher assistant, or, with supervision, by students using the materials and procedure found in the published articles.

A natural dye from berries, a heat source, stand(s), volt-ohm meter, petri dish, tweezers, pipettes, alligator clips, wires and a motor can easily be obtained from one of several sources.

For example, the motor that can be used to demonstrate the power output of the kit's solar cell can be ordered through Maxon Motor. They have offices in Switzerland and in other countries. In the U.S., you can phone +1 (650) 697-9614.

An older motor number that works is 2522.938-12.112.000. If this is out of stock, then purchase Maxon A-max 103707, or a motor that will run on 4 mA and 0.4V. You will have to attach a small propeller or a piece of paper to the shaft to show that it is spinning and give the shaft of the motor a little turn to start it. A digital volt or current meter can also be used to indicate the output of the solar cell.

First step in the Procedure

Lab set-up for the Procedure

Learn more about the Nanocrystalline Solar Cell Kit developed by Greg Smestad and marketed by ICE.

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