The history of solar power, its discovery, and ultimate rise as a powerhouse in the energy industry can be traced back to the 1800s, when scientists Willoughby Smith, William Grylls Adams, and Richard Evans Day discovered the potential selenium had in generating energy when exposed to sunlight.

While this was a monumental leap forward for the technology, it wasn’t until 1954 that the first solar panels — as we recognize them today — began to take shape. Replacing selenium with silicon, Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson created the first silicon photovoltaic (PV) cell, which was the first time that a solar technology could power an electrical device for multiple hours.


What are solar panels made of?

Today, there are three main types of solar panels on the market: monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels, and thin film (or amorphous) solar panels.

Monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels produce more energy than amorphous panels and can last up to 30 or 40 years. These crystalline panels are more expensive as they require extremely high grade silicone (99.99999% pure), which requires a resource intensive process to convert sand into silicone. The silicone is then used to create cylindrical ingots, which when later combined with boron will gain positive electrical polarity.

Once the ingots have been created, they are sliced into thin wafers and then treated and combined with metal conductors that allow them to generate power as solar cells. These conductors give the grid-like appearance you see on solar panels. An anti-reflective coating is then added to reduce the amount of sunlight reflected by the silicon.

To offset the positive polarity from the boron, the solar cells are combined with phosphorus in an industrial oven to add a negative orientation.

Finally, the solar cells are soldered together to create the solar panel. A layer of glass is placed over the cells to protect them from weather, and a highly durable, polymer-based backsheet and side frame are added to seal the panel and make it easier to secure to its final structure.

Each solar panel receives rigorous cleaning and quality inspections before it leaves the manufacturing facility to ensure that it stands up to the elements, delivering power to your home or business for many years.

To learn more about solar energy, or to find the right residential or commercial solar system for you, contact TerraSol Energies at 888.873.9995 or visit us online at