Solar panels are now becoming mainstream. Everyone has heard of them, and they’re making their way into neighborhoods around the country. They are sleek, efficient, and getting smaller and less intrusive each year as research and development improves. Solar panels are bringing energy and technology to places of the world which are decades behind other nations in their development and standard of living. Solar panels have been adopted by commercial and residential customers alike, in climates sunny and shady.
It’s a future we wonder if Russell Ohl could have predicted. Russell Ohl was the father of solar panels and made a variety of discoveries surrounding the crystals that solar panels use. In the 1930s, Ohl was conducting extensive research into specific types of crystals and how they might be used for different communication means such as wireless, radar, and other types of broadcasting. He conducted his research in the famed AT&T Bell Labs along with some amazing other scientists.
Eventually he discovered a barrier within crystals that demarcated different levels of purity. The crystals were able to direct and change electrical flow, and until his discovery we weren’t sure why. He found that because of these impurities, certain areas of the crystal were receptive or resistant to electrical flow. His research continued to discover that crystals were particularly useful when they were super purified and created in certain ways. Ultra purified germanium was a huge discovery that created diodes – the early version of LED and lasers diodes.
After the diode discovery he was led to the discovery and creation of silicon solar cells. The effect of solar energy being convertible was discovered over a century prior, but Russell Ohl took the step to create the solar panels we know today. He was able to use his knowledge of the P-N barriers (or junctions) in crystals to use them for the first semiconductor solar cell in 1946. Once the solar cell proved functional he patented the technology for the very first time.
Since then we have taken enormous strides. Today you can have thin, sleek solar panels installed on your home which will supply all of the electricity you need. Not only is it affordable, but you also get great incentives from your local, state, and federal government to switch to solar energy. Solar panels are everywhere, and they will be the power supply of the future – all thanks to the inspired work of Russell Ohl!