Solar and Plant Cells Compared
Tiffany L. Triggs
The Importance of Energy
For plant Earth, the Sun is the main source for all energy. It is the main essential thing that provides us with light, warmth and energy. Some organisms, such as plants and algae, create their own food using the sun as their main source of energy. In turn the fuel the rest of the world by creating energy for animals and humans after being consumed. They also remove carbon dioxide from the air and replenish oxygen for us to breath. This process, through which this energy is harnessed and used to create food, or carbohydrates, is called photosynthesis. Can the energy of the ...view middle of the document...
The type of energy created, however, is where one difference comes into play. Plants create a chemical energy known as carbohydrates, a simple organic compound of oxygen, carbon and hydrogen, while solar cells use semiconductors to produce electricity.
Use of Electrons
Solar Cells and Photosynthesis both use a form of an electron transport system to create their energy. In photosynthesis, during the light reaction phase, electrons are lost and replaced by splitting water molecules and the electrons are passed down an electron transport chain, releasing energy on the way. In solar cells, during the light absorption process, electrons are separated from the atoms and are transferred using metal electrodes into a circuit to be stored for use.
Natural vs. Man-made
While both processes create energy and have many similarities, the biggest difference in their origin. Photosynthesis is a natural reaction or process, one that has been going on, unassisted, for billions of years. It can adapt itself to face climate changes and changes within our atmosphere if it needs to. Solar cells are completely man made. Any change in our atmosphere that could affect how energy is created by these cells, would have to be addressed by humans and the process would have to be manually changed.
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Mader, S. (2010). Essentials of Biology (Custom Edition). New York: McGraw Hill.