Photosynthesis and Semiconductor-Based Solar Cells

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Photosynthesis and Semiconductor-Based Solar Cells

Photosynthesis, by definition, is “the process by which green plants and certain other organisms transform light energy into chemical energy” (photosynthesis, 2011). This is a remarkable process that occurs naturally and is one that is required for all living organisms to sustain existence on this planet. The efficiency of this process has sparked inventions, such as the semiconductor-based solar cell, that would allow humans to produce energy in a way that is very similar to that of a plant’s photosynthetic process. In this paper, I will compare and contrast the photosynthetic process with that of semiconductor-based solar cells in their abilities to produce energy while also explaining the application of thermodynamics to each process.

The primary comparison amongst photosynthesis and semiconductor-based solar cells is that they require solar energy, or sunlight, to begin the processes. In photosynthesis, plants use chlorophyll, often found in green leaves, to absorb solar energy from the sun. Likewise, a semiconductor-based solar cell utilizes photovoltaic (PV) panels very similar to a plants leaves to absorb light (Crompton). The manner in which light is converted in both photosynthesis and a semiconductor-based solar cell is also very similar. The plants use solar energy from the sun, water absorbed in from the plant’s roots and carbon dioxide from the air to produce glucose, the chemical energy or food that the plants need to survive, and oxygen that is then released into the atmosphere. Lastly, both photosynthesis and semiconductor-based solar cells are more efficient when direct sunlight is available.

While photosynthesis and semiconductor-based solar cells are similar in many ways they could not be more different to each other. As stated earlier, photosynthesis is a process that occurs naturally without any human intervention and, as long as humans do not overpopulate the world, plants can be...
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