Silicon solar cells are used in education, commercial applications, as well as for space travel. These cells are very effective, as they help to power space vehicles, including telescopes, such as Hubble, and also various satellites. Silicon solar cells are economical as well as reliable, and they offer the best and most cost effective way of powering objects that may otherwise require costly and cumbersome sources of fuel.
1. The International Space Station
Perhaps the best example of what silicon solar cells can be used for is the International Space Station. This station is powered by very powerful arrays of silicon solar cells that will contain about 250,000 silicon solar cells, which is large enough to provide power to an entire neighborhood.
2. Space Rovers
Silicon solar cells are also being used to power up rovers that are being sent to Mars to explore its surface.
3. Solar Powered Cars
The first example of silicon solar cells being used to power solar powered cars was seen in the case of a car that was built in 1977 by a person called Ed Passerini. Since then, car manufacturers have researched the possibilities of using these cells in powering production cars. An example of this can be seen in the case of General Motors, who has spent about 8 million USD in developing its “Sunraycer” automobile. This prototype machine uses a solar array of approximately 90 sq. feet and it is six meters long but weighs a mere 177 kg. Of course, many other solar powered cars are flooding the market with even better technology now.
4. Electronic Watches, Calculators, and Leisure Equipment
Solar cells made from silicon are also being widely used in powering up electronic watches, calculators, and to power leisure-oriented appliances. Most such applications are used individually and make best use of current silicon technologies.
5. Future Uses
Companies that are engaged in the manufacture of silicon solar cells are dreaming up new applications for these cells, including building planes that will be powered by solar energy, and there are plans to create power stations in outer space that will provide earth with its power requirements. In fact, it is also expected that newer technologies will be developed to help produce silicon solar cell based curtains and clothes as well as even laptop cases.
6. Kid's Toys
Silicon solar cells are also being used to create new and experimental toys. These toys work in the outdoors under direct sunlight and do not need any batteries in order to work. They only rely on solar energy; in addition, these toys can also be made to work under strong and artificial sources of light.
7. EBook Reader
LG has just announced that it has created a prototype eBook reader that relies on solar cells which are just 0.7 mm thick and which weigh only 20 grams.
With more flexible silicon solar cells under development, it is expected that the use of such cells will become more widespread and the costs of the cells too will come down. Eventually, it is hoped that these cells will be used in clothing, though at present their main use is in solar panels and various gadgets.