Making a simple solar cell

Solar cells are designed to convert available light into electrical energy. They do this without the use of either chemical reactions or moving parts and I’m going to show you how to build one.

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with mild soap or detergent to remove all traces of oil or grease.

  2. Step 2

    Wash one of the copper pieces thoroughly with mild soap or detergent using a wire brush or sandpaper to remove all traces of oil and grease.

  3. Step 3

    Thoroughly dry the copper piece with the soft lint-free cloth.

  4. Step 4

    Wearing your safety goggles, place the cleaned and dried copper piece on the electric burner set on its highest setting for approximately thirty minutes or until a thick black coating called Cupric Oxide forms on both sides of the copper.

  5. Step 5

    Turn off burner and allow the copper piece to cool on the burner. The copper should reach room temperature in about 20 minutes. As the copper cools it shrinks this causes the black layer of Cupric Oxide to flake off exposing the red Cuprous Oxide underneath.

  6. Step 6

    Place the cooled piece of copper under running water. Use your fingers to gently remove the rest of the black Cupric Oxide.

  7. Step 7

    Arrange both copper pieces inside the bottle so they are flat against the side of the bottle but are not touching.

  8. Step 8

    Attach the alligator clips to the copper pieces, one clip for each piece, than attach the lead from the untouched piece of copper to the positive terminal of the meter and the lead from the piece of copper coated with the red Cuprous Oxide to the negative terminal of the meter.

  9. Step 9

    Pour the salt into enough hot water (about 2 cups) to cover all but the top inch of the copper pieces, stir the salt until completely dissolved.

  10. Step 10

    Pour the saltwater into the bottle.

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