Any device that directly converts the energy in light into electrical energy through the process of photovoltaics (see photovoltaic effect). Solar cells do not use chemical reactions to produce electric power, and they have no moving parts. Most solar cells are designed for converting sunlight into electricity. In large arrays, which may contain many thousands of individual cells, they can function as central electric power stations analogous to nuclear, coal-, or oil-fired power plants. Much smaller assemblies of solar cells are used to provide electric power in remote locations including space satellites; because they have no moving parts that could require service or fuels that would require replenishment, solar cells are ideal for providing power in space.
When sunlight strikes a solar cell, an electron is freed by the photoelectric effect. The two
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