How Do Solar Panels Work?

Many homes today use solar panels to make electricity. Some cars are powered by solar panels. Spacecraft use solar panels for energy. How do solar panels work?

A solar panel is made up of many small solar cells. Each cell uses light energy from the sun to make electricity. When you turn on a light switch, electrons move through the electric cord and light up the bulb. (Electrons are small parts of atoms that have negative electrical charges.) That flow of electrons is electricity.

Solar cells use light to make electrons move. Solar cells have two layers stuck together. The first layer has many electrons. It has a negative electrical charge. The second layer has some electrons taken away. It has a positive electrical charge. It is ready to receive more electrons.

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