We took solar power from stationary to portable, from rooftops to backpacks. Powering your phone, headlamp, camera or whatever essential gear is in your kit from the sun is a reality. It’s a little surreal, opening a solar panel, plugging in a phone, and watching as it starts to charge. The science behind solar is powerfully interesting:
- THE SOLAR POWER HOUSE – Nuclear fusion at the sun’s core creates energy, released in the form of light. The sun’s light takes an 8½ minute trip to the earth – even though we’re 93 million miles apart.
- ELECTRON PLAYGROUNDS – Solar panels contain two layers of carefully grown silicon slices with a uniform pathway in between. Energetic electrons in the negatively charged top layer are itching to jump to the positively charged bottom; all they need is a little push in the right direction.
- SUN SPONGES – Think of it like solar billiards. Visible and invisible light from the sun hits the top-layer electrons like a cue ball, and gives them the push they need to break loose and race toward the bottom layer, creating a current as they move.
- HERDING THE ELECTRON FLOW – Pathways created in the solar panels harness moving electrons, acting like a waterslide and forcing the energy where you want it.
- PLUGGING IN – An open solar panel is generating quite a bit of energy; the key is to harness that power and put it to good use. Placing a battery in the middle of the electron waterslide allows you to collect and store energy – which charges your battery.