An analysis of solar energy conversion systems based on photon and thermal processes

Jolanta Fieducik, Jan Godlewski


Solar spectral irradiance covers a fairly broad wavelength range. Solar radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum which is described by the concept of wave-particle duality. The corpuscular theory of electromagnetic radiation states that energy is transmitted by photons. Photons carry specific amounts of energy which can be used to convert solar energy into other types of energy, in particular electricity.

The internal photoelectric effect is important for the conversion of solar energy to electricity because the efficiency of the external photoelectric effect is too low. Every quantum of solar energy also carries a certain amount of energy which can be converted into heat energy.

The objective of the paper is to analyze and compare the efficiency of solar energy conversion in photon and thermal processes, to review the technological advances made in this field, and to indicate potential directions for the development of systems converting solar energy to electricity.


energy conversion, photoelectric effect, thermoelectric process, thermionic emission process

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