You can make homemade solar cells using materials purchased at a hardware store. These cells are not as effective as the ones that are commercially available, and having an array of them would be impractical. Yet teachers will find these homemade solar cells an ideal tool to use to teach their students about solar energy.
To make your own homemade solar cells you’ll need a plastic CD case, silicone rubber glue, copper flashing sheet, insulated copper wire, sandpaper, a soldering iron, and some saltwater.
- Create a cuprous oxide plate by placing the copper sheet on a stove burner for at least 30 minutes.
- When the copper sheeting is covered with a black coating, take it off the flame and let it cool for at least 20 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the black oxide coating disappears and the sheet turns red with black spots.
- Sand one corner clean until the copper is shiny.
- Solder an insulated copper wire onto a corner. This will be your negative lead.
- Cut copper sheeting into a U-shape. It should be bigger than the cuprous oxide plate, but the cutout portion should be small. This will act as the positive plate.
- Solder another insulated copper wire in the corner of the U-shaped copper sheeting.
- Glue the U-shaped copper plate onto the plastic CD window. Be sure to use plenty of silicon glue to ensure the saltwater will not leak out, but make sure it doesn’t completely cover the copper. Saltwater must be in contact with the copper sheeting. Also, make sure that the solder connection is covered with glue.
- Apply a thick layer of silicone glue onto the U-shaped copper plate. This will serve as the insulator between the cuprous oxide plate and the U-shaped copper plate.
- Gently press the cuprous oxide plate onto the layer of glue. Be sure to seal off the gaps without touching each other.
- Add additional glue on the top to act as a funnel for the saltwater.
- With an eyedropper, add the saltwater into your portable homemade solar cell. Fill it to the top of the copper plate and seal it with silicone glue. Let the glue cure for at least half an hour, and then your homemade solar cell is ready to be used.
This is another way of building your own homemade solar cell. It will generate a small amount of power, and you’ll need a couple of cells to recharge a nine volt battery.