Anyone who lives in Australia knows that in most places there is plenty of sunshine so it makes sense that you might want to consider using the power of that sun to help with your energy needs. It is possible for a person to actually make their own solar cell or more than one to use in creating solar panels to harness some of that energy. It also helps to know how solar cells work and this homemade cell will help educate you.

In order to make your own solar cell in your own Australian home you are going to need the following items:

  • Copper sheets.
  • Clear Plexiglass/Perpex or Acrylic sheets.
  • Thin wood strips.
  • Copper wire.
  • Duct tape.
  • Metal guillotine.
  • Band saw.
  • Electric Ring Hob.
  • Burner.
  • Emery cloth.

The first thing you will need
to do when making your own Australian solar cell is to cut a square from the copper sheeting. It should be six to eight inches in size. If you have a metal guillotine it will be easier to do, but, if you don’t have access to something like this then snips will be OK to use.

After you are done doing this make sure that you wash your hands good and then dry them. You need to make sure that you get rid of grease or oil from your hands because this might cause some problems when you go onto the next step. You should also make sure to remove any grease or detritus from the copper sheet as well. Now take a piece of emery cloth and sand down the copper on both sides to get rid of the oxidized layer of copper.

Now you will need to heat treat the copper so you can create a new oxide coating on the top of it. This is different than the oxidation that you you just got rid of. This type is called cuprous oxide.

Turn the burner on high and set the copper on top. Make sure to watch the changes of the copper very carefully as it gets heated good it will take on a patina of a variety of colors.

Next you will see a black crusty oxide on the top of the copper. If you let it cool slowly this layer will become fragile and will separate very easily from the rest of the copper. Once it is cooled off take the sheet and give it a firm bang on a hard surface. The oxide should pop off. Next rub the oxide gently with your fingers. After you have done this you will see there is a layer of reddish orange rust color. This is the photosensitive layer and this
is what makes the solar cell work.

Take the thin strips of wood and make a spacer. Use the duct tape to join the pieces together. Don’t use metal fixings they could react electrolytically with the cell. Now you will use some salt water to make another electrode. It will make contact with the entire surface of the solar cell but will conduct electricity. You will need to immerse copper wire in the water to make the connection.

Take a piece of plexiglass for the cover plate and put a strip of duct tape on either side of it. Take the electrode wire and stick it to the plexiglass. The wire should be sort of thick so that it is easier to see. In order for your solar cell to work right you want to make a big conductor.

Take the copper you have and stick duct tape to one side and have the sticky side of the tape facing the same direction as the layer of copper oxide, combine the copper plate and the front module to make a finished solar cell.

Take some salt water and fill in the void between the front section of the plexiglass and the copper and seal the module with duct tape all around so the water doesn’t leak.

Take a multimeter and connect the module to it and find a bright light source and test the electrical properties of the solar cell.