Photovoltaics was a method for getting electricity from the sun. It was one of the main replacements for oil.


The photovoltaic effect was discovered in 1839 by French physicist, Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel, the father of the guy who discovered radioactivity. This was followed in 1887 by the discovery of the photoelectric effect by Heinrich Hertz, an ethnically half-Jewish, half-German Lutheran physicist. Then, in 1905, Jewish physicist Albert Einstein discovered that light was made of particles called photons. The first semiconductor solar cell was produced in 1946 by Russell Ohl who would become one of the inventors of the transistor. The first practical photovoltaic cells were created by Bell Labs in 1954. In 1958, solar cells started being used on spacecraft. Soon, solar cells would become cheaper.


Tech Level: 9-10

In the late 1960s, a scientist named Elliot Berman invented a new process for producing silicon solar panels in a ribbon. He started working at Exxon to make improvements. By the end of the 20th century, solar panels were commonplace. It was now possible to incorporate them into roofs of houses. Polycrystalline silicon was by now the most common material for solar panels. There was one problem. Polycrystalline silicon had to be pure. This made them expensive. During the second decade of the 21st century, they were replaced with thin-film solar panels which could disappear into windows, cell phones, television, etc. This made solar power commonplace. This was important as Masdar City would soon be finished.

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