Paying Homage: 23 Solar Pioneers Whose Names You SHOULD Know

10. Charles Fritts

 

1883 —Charles Fritts, an American inventor, was the first to conceive the idea of solar energy. In 1883, he coated the semiconductor selenium with an extremely thin layer of gold. The resulting cell had a conversion efficiency of only about 1%. Additionally, the hefty cost of the materials prevented the cells from being made in large quantities. Today, however, Fritts’ discovery has led to solar cells that are over 20% efficient.

 

1883 — Charles Fritts, an American inventor, was the first to conceive the idea of solar energy. In 1883, he coated the semiconductor selenium with an extremely thin layer of gold. The resulting cell had a conversion efficiency of only about 1%. Additionally, the hefty cost of the materials prevented the cells from being made in large quantities. Today, however, Fritts’ discovery has led to solar cells that are over 20% efficient.

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Comments

  1. Number 10: Definitely one of the most influential!

    John M
    California Solar Systems
    http://855casolar.com

  2. Nancy Hiler says:

    Hi,

    I was very surprised to see that the “Father of Modern Solar Energy” Stanford R. Ovshinsky (1922-2012), the physicist and inventor who had been granted some 400 patents over the course of his life, most related to energy, many related to solar energy. His most famous invention was of continuous web multi-junction flexible thin-film photovoltaic laminates and panels — amorphous thin-film solar cells, for short, consisting of many thin, flexible layers in sheets. Thin-film, versus bulk silicon (also called crystalline) panels, which is what most of us have on our rooftops today, have the advantage of being flexible and very low in weight, suitable particularly for building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) uses.

  3. patb2009 says:

    I”m surprised you left off Stan Ovishinsky.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_R._Ovshinsky#Energy_Conversion_Laboratory

    Stan did tremendous work in thin films, amorphous and low cost PV.

  4. arne-nl says:

    Hermann Scheer, who masterminded the German EEG that kickstarted the mass production and caused the massive price drops of the past few years.

  5. Frédéric C. Siros says:

    His actual name is Augustin Mouchot. He wrote a book “La chaleur solaire et ses applications industrielles” (I don’t know if it was translated in English) that can be bought on line.

    • Frédéric:

      Thanks for letting us know. We took his name from the Department of Energy website, so we apologize for getting it wrong. We have fixed it on the page (see above).

      For the record, I translated the title of his book for you:

      Solar heat and its industrial applications

      Thanks again for the information. We truly do appreciate it.

  6. Barry Johnston @GreenGrounded says:
  7. Number 22: Elon Musk? He probably won’t bring forth a new scientific discovery. Not that he hasn’t earned his bones in scientific research. But like an Andrew Carnegie or a Steve Jobs. I think Elon will be included on this list in the future for helping solar become more mainstream via Solar City and his especially with his work at Tesla.