How do photovoltaic cells transform solar energy in to electricity?

Question by Nikki: How do photovoltaic cells transform solar energy in to electricity?
Can someone please explain how photovoltaic cells, also know as, solar panels convert solar energy into electricity!! Detail would be nice, and please use some key terms. I dont understand the process very well, and i would appreciate the help!
Thanks! :)

Best answer:

Answer by Zarn
A simple Wikipedia search is a good idea – especially for mining the references:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photovoltaic_effect

This explanation, for instance, is from one of the references found in the Wikipedia article:
http://www.mrsolar.com/content/photovoltaic_effect.php

An illustrated article can be found here:
http://www.petervaldivia.com/technology/energy/solar-power.php

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One Response to “How do photovoltaic cells transform solar energy in to electricity?”

  1. Generating electricity with the power of the sun’s rays (“solar power”, “photovoltaic power”, or “PV” for short) is possible due to the photovoltaic effect. “Photo” comes from the Greek for “light”; “voltaic” refers to the production of electricity and is a variant of Italian physicist Alessandro Volta’s name.

    To illustrate how PV works, let’s follow the flow of energy through a small grid-tied residential system:

    The first step in the process occurs when rays of light from the sun strike the cells within PV modules (modules are commonly called “panels”). As the light energy hits the photovoltaic cells, electrons are excited and begin to flow. Multiple cells are connected in one module, and several modules are connected together to form an array, all harnessing and summing the flow of this electric power.

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