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See how individual factors affect the output of a solar cell.

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Introduction

Solar Cell Coursework Experiment. Aim: To see how individual factors affect the output of a solar cell. Factors affecting the output of a solar cell: This experiment is going to be performed in the confines of a school laboratory, and so the complexity and cost of the experiment(s) should reflect this. However, to see how different factors affect the solar cell output, I will need to perform at least two experiments. The question is, which ones? * Distance from the light source will affect the solar cell output, because intensity of light on the solar cell will decrease, the further away from the light the cell is. This is because many waves, including light, will travel away from the filament in a circular motion, not straight lines directly towards the solar cell, so the further away it is, the less rays will hit it. * A changing power to the light source, and therefore, to the solar cell, will affect the solar cell output. Theoretically, an increase in power at the light source should result in more energy being transferred to the solar panel, per second, resulting in a greater solar cell output. * The different colours of light would also affect the solar cell output, as each colour of light has a different frequency. We can tell this from Einstein's theory of photons being directly proportional to frequency: Energy = Planck's constant x speed / wavelength Different colours of light have the same speed, but different wavelengths, which, in the above equation, changes the value for energy, which is the solar cell output. And, because the wavelength is the denominator for this equation, we can make the statement, that 'the larger the wavelength, the lower the energy'. ...read more.

Middle

* Distance experiment: From the hypothesis, I could see that, due to the 'area of a sphere' effect, the distance I could move the solar cell over and still get a sizeable reading on the milliammeter would probably be fairly small. For this reason, I decided to take the readings every centimetre, from 1cm to 15cm away from the bulb. The ruler on the table, against which the solar cell was placed, was held in place by a clamp so that it wouldn't change position and disrupt my results. At all times, the voltage and current were at constant 8.6V and 1.51I respectively. Fair test: * Background light was always going to be a key factor in this experiment, and, as we couldn't get rid of it completely, we made sure that the same conditions were maintained throughout the experiment. That meant no lights were turned on or off in the laboratory and no blinds were taken up or put down, after the practical had been started. Also, during the experiment, I made sure that the group with whom I was performing the experiment were quite still, so that they would not move in the way of one of the background lights or the lamplight itself. * Variables that we weren't testing at a particular time were constantly monitored so that, if they did change while we were taking a result, we could repeat that part of the experiment. * I made sure that I turned the power off when I was not taking a result, so that the bulb and solar cells had the maximum amount of time to cool down, so that their resistances would not be affected more than was strictly necessary, given the time constraints. ...read more.

Conclusion

* In the varying distances experiment, the milliammeter reading would not go lower than 2mA because that was the level of background light. This was the reason why the graphs for this experiment have flat bottoms and make the straight-line graphs look like curves. This problem also made the curves have a straighter line than they would have, otherwise! To remedy the negative effects of background light, I would perform the practical in a photography lab or a room with a similar, dark environment. * The inefficiency of both the filament lamp and the solar cell (they were 20% and 4% efficient, respectively) served to give us a very small range of results to work with. At least their efficiencies were fairly constant over the course of the experiment. * Another factor that altered the results was the resistance that built up in the circuit, as we couldn't afford to give the instruments time to cool down properly in between readings. A solution to this would have been to have more time to do the experiment in. This factor was, in my opinion, at east partly to blame for the last point on the graph of solar cell output vs. 1/distance2. * Finally, to make the readings more accurate overall, and negate the effect of any anomalies that might have been taken (luckily, my experiment didn't have any serious anomalies), if we had had more time, the whole practical could have been performed twice, and an average of the results taken. Improvements: * Have more time for the experiment. * Perform it in a darkened room or fume cupboard etc... * Study the effect of colour of light, maybe using basic colour filters instead of the complicated equipment mentioned at the beginning of the coursework. ...read more.

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