An idea for a homemade solar cell I thought about this morning

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Rolland B. Heiss, Feb 6, 2015.

  1. Rolland B. Heiss

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 4, 2015
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    Before work and before I was fully awake (that is usually when the sudden ideas hit) I ended up thinking about semiconductors and the fact that two different semiconductors placed together could produce electricity from light in the form of a solar cell. So I thought about it all day at work and came home to test it out in a quick and basic way. What I did was cut two aluminum foil squares one being for the top of the cell and one being for the bottom of the cell. Then I cut four squares of heavy and strong paper towel, soaking one in an old plastic lid from a chip container in water mixed with Borax. Then I got another lid and soaked another piece of paper towel in water mixed with Alum. My plan was to pull the respective soaked pieces of paper towel out of the water and let them dry overnight but I became impatient. So they dried some but not fully. Anyway, I placed one of the squares soaked in Borax and partially dry over a square of aluminum foil and then proceeded to place two dry squares of paper towel over the top of that. Then I placed the somewhat dry paper towel square soaked in Alum on top of it all and finally placed the final square of aluminium over it all like a sandwich. I used some electrical tape to hold it together in the middle of each side of the square and tested it with the voltmeter. Being as it was still wet it was sort of a battery and was getting 0.01 and that is not what I wanted to do... make a battery as bad as it was. Yet, when I held the thing up to a fluorescent light the voltage increased to 0.04 which was interesting despite the fact that the surface aluminum was still reflective. Later I used a can of black spray paint to cover the aluminum in order to make it non reflective or less reflective and let it dry. Then, when I tested it against the light the highest reading I managed was 0.12 at one point. So my idea worked but the paper towel squares are still damp and I want to test it when they are completely dry and see what happens. By the way, I think the Borax is excellent for one of the layers but the Alum is similar to the Borax chemistry wise in a certain sense so since I don't have any phosphorus lying around at the moment please allow me to pose a question. Do you all have any ideas as to what might work better in order for the electrons to become more excited? Something easy to get around the house? Thanks for reading.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2015
  2. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
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    My guess is you're just picking up stray electric AC fields and maybe the mess you have is just a very poor diode that gives a slight DC bias voltage detected by your hi-impedance meter.
     
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  3. cmartinez

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    Jan 17, 2007
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    Have you tested your idea using an incandescent lamp (or direct sunlight) instead of the fluorescent lamp?
     
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  4. cmartinez

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    You beat me to what I was trying to drive at...
     
  5. Rolland B. Heiss

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    Feb 4, 2015
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    Hehehe, could be! But whatever I have done with my idea at least it showed some results as opposed to many of my other ideas that did nothing! :D
     
  6. Rolland B. Heiss

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    Feb 4, 2015
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    No cmartinez, when I got home from work today the sun had set and all I had available was the fluorescent to toy around with.
     
  7. Rolland B. Heiss

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    Feb 4, 2015
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    I have to add this... it is true that semiconductors act in conjunction in order to garnish power from certain light. You just have to find the right ones that pass electrons to and fro. Look at a basic solar cell that is commonly used now... Silicon phosphorus... boron.
     
  8. nsaspook

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    Not only that but the band-gap has to be designed to actually capture the energy from the photons at the correct wavelengths.
    [​IMG]
     
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  9. cmartinez

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    Jan 17, 2007
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    You're learning electronics pretty much the way I learned them (and still learning)... the hard way, ha ha ha... actually I was going to say, hands-on is the best way to learn. When I was a kid I was the only geek that liked that sort of thing, and I had no one to share it with... that's probably why it took me such a long time to learn the basics.... Now the net has changed all that... anyway, this forum is precisely for people like you (and me too... I'm half a noobie... or a noobie and a half, depends on how you look at it)... curious guys willing to dig their hands in the dirt (and their heads in the books) and find out things by themselves... with a little help from our cyber-friends
     
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  10. Rolland B. Heiss

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    Feb 4, 2015
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    Great comment and reply cmartinez. I appreciate your words fully and obviously relate to them! People like you help keep me going and keep pressing me forward. Or perhaps I ought to rephrase that part about 'people like you'? Clearly you are a unique individual unlike anyone else, same as me! :)
     
  11. cmartinez

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    Should've said "people like us".... but English is not my primary language... it works to my advantage, you see ... that gives me some license to be politically incorrect sometimes... :D
    EDIT: I really, really meant "people like us"... no offense
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
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  12. Wendy

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    Mar 24, 2008
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    Something to be aware of, a simple diode will act as a simple crystal detector for a crystal radio. No useable power, but measurable.
     
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  13. zakamadeus

    New Member

    Sep 1, 2016
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    You inspire me to do the following let me know what yalls thoughts are.

    Start with two copper sheets of metal (possibly one of them magnesium or aluminum) heat both with blowtorch until oxidized then splash with vinegar on both sides.
    Mix black paint with magnetic powder (making ferrofluid). paint one side of each metal sheet.
    Take paper towel and soak with alum and another with borax (most absorbent paper towels available.). Dry with hairdryer or heat gun and allow to cool.
    Place paper towels (dry) on the not painted side of the metal sheets.
    Put activated carbon in blender and layer one of the paper towels atop the sheet metal with the ground carbon. place other metal sheet with paper towel atop the one with the carbon sandwiching it in the middle (boron paper towel above the alum paper towel.)
    Make wood frame around the sandwiched sheets placing glass on either side of the sandwich encasing it. (Possibly doping the inside of each glass with the top one being gallium and the bottom one being phosphate.)
    Place one layer of graphene on top (outside of sandwich) to collect charge from raindrops.
    After setting solar panel to appropriate angle attach a gutter on the lower edge to collect rain water sending it to a collection barrel. Having glass on the bottom side enables double sided solar panel. could possibly put mirrior on ground facing up under the panel to help reflection and a fresnel lense slightly above top facing glass to magnify light beaming down. attach a fog collection mesh (as pictured bellow) atop the raised edge of the solar panel leading to drip on the solar panel. I give you the rain/fog collecting solar panel that gathers electric charge from rain.
     
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