Tammemagi (2009, p.197) claims that “Although solar energy can be used to heat homes and water directly, the most flexible use is with ‘photovoltaic cells’, which turn sunlight directly into electricity. The photoelectric effect was discovered in 1839 by a French scientist, Edmond Vecquerel. He found that when he exposed two different brass plates immersed in a liquid to sunlight, it produced a continuous electric current. In the late 1870s, English scientists found they could obtain the same result using selenium. It was not until 1954, however, that the first practical photovoltaic cell using silicon was developed at Bell Laboratories. Photovoltaic cells have many benefits: they are rugged, reliable, have no moving parts, can withstand extreme temperatures, are impervious to most corrosive chemicals, and give off no toxic emissions. Solar cells were first used, in the space program for sattelites where there is continuous sunshine.“
Tammemagi, H. Y. (2009). Air: our planet’s ailing atmosphere.