Photosynthesis: Plant Cells vs. Solar Cells

Topics: Sun, Energy, Photosynthesis Pages: 2 (654 words) Published: February 5, 2012
Plant cells vs. Solar Cells
Chevon Allen
Professor Garcia

Photosynthesis and the semiconductor-based solar cell are very similar process with different ways of reaching the same goal. In photosynthesis, plant cells harness the solar energy of the sun with carbon dioxide to transform water molecules into hydrogen, oxygen, and electrons. Just like photosynthesis, Semi conductor based solar cells harness the solar energy of the sun for the same purposes. Solar cells use a semiconductor material like Silicon (Si) to harvest the energy through; much like a plant uses its Chlorophyll to harness its energy. (2.) Another similarity that can be shared between the two systems would be the way the energy is produced. The light reactions of photosynthesis can be compared to the production of electricity by solar cells. This process is called photovoltaics. The electrons in the solar cell capture light energy and are boosted to a high energy level where they are accepted by the wire making up the electrical circuit. The electrons then do work, such as to run an electric motor. Then the electrons lost by the solar cell must be replenished. This is done by completing the electrical circuit. In photosynthesis the electrons lost by the pigments involved are replaced by splitting water. (1.) Although they have similar purposes for harvesting energy they are very different as well. Plants are less efficient at capturing the energy in sunlight than solar cells mostly because they have too much evolutionary baggage. Plants have to power a living thing, whereas solar cells only have to send electricity down a wire. This is a big difference because if photosynthesis makes a mistake, it makes toxic byproducts that kill the organism. Photosynthesis has to be conservative to avoid killing the organisms it powers. (Scientific Daily 2011). Another difference is during photosynthesis plant cells derive their energy directly from...
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