Photovoltaic cells are a source of clean, renewable energy for our experiments. If we do not have photovoltaic cells at hand to generate basic electricity, we can create a small, simple solar cell or solar battery, which we can use in our experiments. In this article, we will look at how to make a solar battery quickly, with few elements.
- Thin copper sheets or plates.
- Wide-mouth glass container.
- Electric cooker.
- Alligator clips.
Assembling our solar battery
The first thing to do is to wash our hands thoroughly to avoid adding grease to the copper plates. Optionally, we can use disposable latex surgical gloves to handle the plates.
We proceed to cut a copper plate from the original sheet, of such a size that it can be fully heated by the electric burner (approximately 10×10 cm), wash it well to avoid traces of grease on it and dry it with a clean cloth. Place the freshly cut copper plate on the electric burner, turn it on and let it heat for about half an hour.
Once the time has elapsed, we can see that a layer of cuprous oxide (dark in colour) has formed on the copper plate, we turn off the burner and with the help of tweezers, we remove the plate and place it on an insulating surface (glass or wood) to cool down.
After about 20 minutes, we will see how it has formed a kind of shell or flakes on the plate, we hit it a little on the insulating surface to remove the excess of flakes and we leave it ready for our solar battery.
Now, we cut a copper plate of the same size as the one we have burnt and we have our electrodes ready. Next, we prepare two wires with both ends connected to crocodile clips.
Place the plates on the glass container, one on each side of the container and facing each other, without the plates touching each other. Then, prepare a salt water solution, heat it in a pot and pour it into the container.
We connect one end of the first wire to the burnt board and the other wire to the clean board. The loose ends are connected to a voltmeter to measure the electricity, we place our battery in the sun and see how many volts we can generate.