Inventors of Solar Technology

General Science

Alessandro Volta

02/18/1745 - 05/05/1827

"Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta was an Italian physicist known for the invention of the battery in the 1800s. The Volt was named after him." (Wikipedia)

Solar Power Mechanical Engine

Robert Stirling

10/25/1790 - 06/06/1878

Scottish clergyman, and inventor of the Stirling engine. (Wikipedia)

First Stirling Engine Built


Built by Robert Stirling.

Augustin Mouchot

04/07/1821 - 10/4/1912

French inventor of the earliest solar-powered engine, converting solar energy into mechanical steam power. (Wikipedia)

First Parabolic Solar Collector Built


Built by Augustin Mouchot.


Aleksandr Stoletov

08/10/1839 - 05/27/1896

Russian physicist, founder of electrical engineering, and professor in Moscow University. Developed quantitative methods for the study of the photoelectric effect. Built the first solar cell based on the outer photoelectric effect(Wikipedia)

Willhelm Ludwig Franz Hallwachs

07/09/1859 - 06/22/1922

German physicist. In 1888 Hallwachs formulated the hypothesis that a conductive plate on which to focus ultraviolet light carries a positive charge because the electrons are gouged out. Interestingly this happened with more intensity in selenium. The phenomenon was seen in the same year by A. Righi. The phenomenon was called 'Hallwachs-Effekt', now called the photoelectric effect. (Wikipedia)

Albert Einstein

03/14/1879 - 04/18/1955

German-born theoretical physicist who developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics). Received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect". (Wikipedia)

Hallwachs-Effekt aka Photoelectric Effect Hypothesized


Albert Einstein Writes Essay on Photoelectric Effect



Antoine César Becquerel

03/07/1788 - 01/18/1878

"Antoine César Becquerel was a French scientist and a pioneer in the study of electric and luminescent phenomena." (Wikipedia)

Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel

03/24/1820 - 05/11/1891

"French physicist who studied the solar spectrum, magnetism, electricity and optics. He is credited with the discovery of the photovoltaic effect, the operating principle of the solar cell, in 1839. He is also known for his work in luminescence and phosphorescence." (Wikipedia)

Photovoltaic Effect Discovered


Antoine César Becquerel and Alexander-Edmond Becquerel.


Willoughby Smith

04/06/1828 - 07/17/1891

Willoughby Smith was an English electrical engineer who discovered the photoconductivity of the element selenium. This discovery led to the invention of photoelectric cells, including those used in the earliest television systems. (Wikipedia)

William Grylls Adams

02/18/1836 - 04/10/1915

"In 1876, Adams and Richard Evans Day discovered that illuminating a junction between selenium and platinum has a photovoltaic effect.[4][5] This first demonstrated that electricity could be produced from light without moving parts and lead to the modern solar cell." (Wikipedia)

Charles Fritts

02/27/1850 - 1903

Fritts coated the semiconductor material selenium with an extremely thin layer of gold. The resulting cells had a conversion electrical efficiency of only about 1% owing to the properties of selenium, which in combination with the material's high cost prevented the use of such cells for energy supply. (Wikipedia)

Effect of Light on Selenium Discovered


Solar Cell Built by Charles Frits


Silicon Solar Cell

Jan Czochralski

10/23/1885 - 04/22/1953

Polish chemist who invented the Czochralski process, which is used for growing single crystals and in the production of semiconductor wafers. (Wikipedia)

Russell Shoemaker Ohl

01/1898 - 03/1987

American engineer who is generally recognized for patenting the modern solar cell (US Patent 2402662, "Light sensitive device").[1] Ohl was a notable semiconductor researcher prior to the invention of the transistor. (Wikipedia)

Calvin Souther Fuller

05/25/1902 - 10/28/1994

"A physical chemist at AT&T Bell Laboratories where he worked for 37 years from 1930 to 1967. Fuller was part of a team in basic research that found answers to physical challenges. He helped develop synthetic rubber during World War II, he was involved in early experiments of zone melting, he is credited with devising the method of transistor production yielding diffusion transistors, he produced some of the first solar cells with high efficiency, and he researched polymers and their applications." (Wikipedia)

Gerald Pearson

03/31/1905 - 10/25/1987

Gerald Pearson's fundamental research in semiconductor materials led to his invention, with Daryl Chapin and Calvin Fuller, of the silicon solar cell - the first practical device that converted solar energy into electrical power. (National Inventors Hall of Fame)

Daryl Chapin

07/21/1906 - 01/19/1995

"At Bell Labs, Chapin initially studied magnetic materials. During World War II, he focused on underwater sound devices and magnetic recording. In early 1953, in an effort to find new sources of power for transistor telephone systems, he began to investigate the direct conversion of solar energy into electrical energy. The solar battery was first demonstrated on April 25, 1954. In 1959, Chapin so simplified the process of making solar cells that it became one of Bell Systems’ Science Experiments performed by high school students around the U.S." (National Inventors Hall of Fame)

Czochralski Method of Single Crystals


He discovered the Czochralski method in 1916, when he accidentally dipped his pen into a crucible of molten tin rather than his inkwell. He immediately pulled his pen out to discover that a thin thread of solidified metal was hanging from the nib. The nib was replaced by a capillary, and Czochralski verified that the crystallized metal was a single crystal.

In 1950, Americans Gordon K. Teal and J.B. Little from Bell Labs would use the method to grow single germanium crystals, leading to its use in semiconductor production. (Wikipedia)

Russell Ohl's Silicon Solar Cell Patent


This invention relates to light-sensitive electric devices and more particularly to photo- E. M. F. cells comprising fused silicon of high purity. (Patent US 2402662 A)

Silicon Solar Cell Patented


Patented by Daryl M Chapin, Calvin S Fuller, Gerald L Pearson.

This invention relates to apparatus for converting solar radiation into electrical energy and more particularly to apparatus which utilizes solar energy to charge a storage battery. (US 2780765 A)

Hoffman Electronics Improves PV Cells to 8%


Hoffman Electronics Improves PV Cells to 9%


Vanguard 1 Satellite

03/17/1958 - 05/1964

The spacecraft was a 1.47-kg aluminum sphere 16.5 cm in diameter. It contained a 10-mW, 108-MHz mercury-battery powered transmitter and a 5-mW, 108.03-MHz transmitter powered by six square (roughly 5 cm on a side) solar cells mounted on the body of the satellite. (NASA)

Hoffman Electronics Improves PV Cells to 10%


Hoffman Electronics Improves PV Cells to 14%


Bell Telephone Laboratories Launches Telstar


NASA Launches Nimbus Satellite


Satellite powered by a 470-watt photovoltaic array.