Photovoltaics is the name of the phenomenon whereby light energy, particularly ultra violet light, (remember the pyranometer from Weather watch?) is converted into electricity. This is done using semiconductors that exhibit the ‘photovoltaic effect’.
But what is the photovoltaic effect? Some materials will absorb photons – little packets of light – and release electrons. If these electrons are captured in a circuit, an electric current results that can be used for useful purposes. It sounds a bit complicated, doesn’t it? Have a look at the video below; it isn’t as complex as it sounds.