How do solar panels work?

THE sun is the ultimate source of all life on earth. It is also an infinitely renewable and 100% pollution free energy source. Therefore, it is not surprising that we should look to solar energy as a great potential energy source. How do we harness energy from the sun?
One way is through the use of solar panels.

Solar panels convert the sun’s energy directly into electricity. The basic unit of a solar panel is a solar cell, which usually consists of one or two layers of silicon-based semiconductor wafers. When struck by the photons in sunlight, the solar cell generates an electrical charge due to the “photovoltaic effect” – which is a pretty good name, since it produces voltage from photons.