Cost Effective Solar Cells: Researching Chemicals and Materials for Solar Cell Construction

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Intended Grade Level(s):
Learning Goal(s):
  1. Students will research chemicals, materials and procedures for their own solar cell designs
  2. Students will write an introduction to the problem, including criteria, constraints, and solar cell concepts
  3. Students will research and write a rough materials and procedure for the solar cell
  4. Students will research and describe their solar cell designs.
Lesson Number:
Estimated Activity Length:
4 hours

This lesson is designed to be completed in three 80-minute sections. The teacher will facilitate student research on solar cell designs centering around the engineering problem: How can we make a cheaper, cleaner or more efficient solar cell? Teachers should encourage students easy-to-obtain materials either found already in the Chemistry classroom, in the recommended Inquiry Materials Kit, in a local supermarket or thrift store, or to be ordered on short notice. Ideas can range from changing conditions on the copper or titanium dioxide cell process, graphite solar cells, using perovskite mineral, printable inkjet layers, organic green solar cells, to wildly creative cell designs. The teacher is encouraged to facilitate student ideas, valuing the design process more than the success or failure of the design itself. Large blocks of time are dedicated for student research, thinking, and leading towards the sketching a design model.

  • Day 1: Introduce driving question, introduce constraints, develop student success criteria, and assist in the research process
  • Day 2: Solar cell procedures and background writing
  • Day 3: Background writing, design and model research