A photoelectric cell is a battery that is powered by the sun’s energy. You can build one at home and wire it yourself using some simple tools found in your home and around the hardware store. Wiring a photoelectric cell is a good way to learn about how solar power is converted into energy in an environmentally safe way. You will quickly find out how energizing the sun can be when you hook your solar cell into a microammeter, which measures energy.
Wash and dry the copper sheet to remove oils. If there is any oxidation on it, sand it off with a piece of sandpaper.
Lay the copper sheet on your hotplate and turn the hotplate to your highest temperature setting. Let the copper piece heat for 30 minutes until the back of it looks black.
Turn off the hotplate and let the copper sheet cool for 30 minutes. Rinse the copper plate under cool water, but do not scrub the black parts off the sheet.
Cut an empty 2 quart soda bottle in half and discard the top piece with the opening.
Cut another sheet of copper flashing the same size as your first piece. Slip both copper pieces vertically down inside the bottom half of the plastic bottle so that they don't touch each other. The copper flashing that you burned must face inward.
Snap an alligator clip to one of the copper pieces. Hook the lead from the unburnt piece of copper to a positive terminal on your micro-ammeter. Hook the lead from the burned piece of copper to the negative terminal on your micro-ammeter.
Fill a bowl with 1 quart of hot water and pour 2 tbsp. of salt into it. Let the mixture dissolve and then pour it into the bottom of the soda bottle so the bottoms of the copper plates are immersed. Do not get the clip leads wet and make sure the clip connections remain above the water line.
Place the bottle into the sunlight and watch the microammeter needle jump.