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One of the problems associated with testing a new unproven photovoltaic material or cell design is that significant processing required in order to create a fully functioning solar cell. If it is desired to screen a wide range of materials or synthetic conditions it can be time consuming (and costly of research funds) to prepare fully functioning devices. In addition, the success of each individual cell may be more dependent on fabrication steps not associated with the variations under study. For example, lithography and metallization could cause more variability than the parameters of the materials synthesis. Thus, the result could be to give no useful information as to the viability of each material under study, or even worse a false indication of research direction.

So-called quick and dirty qualitative measurements can be employed to assess not only the relative photoresponse of new absorber layer materials, but also the relative power output of photovoltaic devices. The measurement procedure can provide a simple, inexpensive and rapid evaluation of cell materials and structures that can help guide the development of new materials for solar cell applications.

Equipment needs

Everything needed for the measurements can be purchased at a local electronics store and a hardware or big box store. Needed items are:

  • Two handheld digital voltmeter with at least ±0.01 mV sensitivity (0.001 mV is better, of course).
  • A simple breadboard and associated wiring kit.
  • A selection of standard size and wattage resistors ( 1 / 8 - 1 Watt, 1 - 1000 ohms).
  • A selection of wire wound potentiometers (0 - 10 ohms; 0 - 100 ohms; 0 - 1000 ohms) if I-V tracing is desired.
  • A light source. This can be anything from a simple flood light to an old slide projector.
  • A small fan or other cooling device for “steady state” (i.e., for measurements that last more than a few seconds such as tracing an I-V curve).
  • 9 volt battery and holder or simple ac/dc low voltage power supply.

Measurement of the photo-response of an experimental solar cell

A qualitative measurement of a solar cell’s current-voltage (I-V) characteristics can be obtained using the simple circuit diagram illustrated in [link] . [link] shows an I-V test setup using a household flood lamp for the light source. A small fan sits to the right just out of the picture.

Simple circuit diagram for I-V measurement of a prototype solar cell.
Simple test apparatus for qualitative measurement of the current-voltage output from an experimental thin film solar cell.

Driving the potentiometer to its maximum value will place the cell close to open circuit operation, depending on the potentiometer range, so that the open circuit voltage can be simply extrapolated from the I versus V curve. If desired, the circuit can simply be opened to make the actual measurement once the rest of the data have been recorded. Data in this case were simply recorded by hand and later entered into a spreadsheet so an I-V plot could be generated. A sample plot is shown in [link] . Keep in mind that cell efficiency cannot be determined with this technique unless the light source has been calibrated and color corrected to match terrestrial sunlight. The fact that the experimental device actually generated net power was the result sought. The shape of the curve and the very low voltage are the result of very large resistive losses in the device along with a very “leaky” junction.

Questions & Answers

Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
Ali Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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advantages of NAA
Sai Reply
how I can reaction of mercury?
Sham Reply

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