ABOUT SOLAR CELLS: In the future, more homes will most likely incorporate solar cells, also known as photovoltaics. Solar cells are made of semiconductor materials (usually silicon), which absorb sunlight's energy and stores it until it is needed to power something. Unfortunately, present solar cells can only absorb between 15-25 percent of sunlight's energy. This is because it only absorbs visible light; other kinds of light pass right through the cell as if it were transparent.
SENSORS MEASURE WEATHER CONDITIONS: A sensor is a type of transducer: an electronic device that converts energy from one form to another. For instance, microphones convert sound waves into electrical signals, while speakers receive the electrical signals and convert them back into sound waves. There are many different kinds of sensors, but most are electrical or electronic. A photosensor is an electronic component that detects the presence of various wavelengths of light: visible, infrared, or ultraviolet for example. The electrical conductance will change in response to the intensity of the light being detected, and this change is recorded by a computer. At UCSD, they are measuring conditions at many campus locations in order to learn the best places to place solar panels and other technology that will help them save energy.