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Photosynthesis: The Solar Cells and the Plant Cells

Photosynthesis is a chemical process used by photoautotrophic plants and other organisms to change carbon dioxide and water into organic compounds like sugars with the help of solar energy. These organisms include green plants, algae and some bacteria. The process produces oxygen and vital products as waste products that enhance life in all aerobic organisms. The process occurs in the leaves of green plants, particularly in the chloroplast (Mader, 2008). A solar panel, also called photoelectric cell is an electrical device that directly converts light energy to electric energy via photovoltaic effect. An assembly of solar cells is used to capture sunlight and is therefore referred to as a solar panel. Solar panels are manufactured from silicon, telluride and selenide but contain two glasses and a conductive material sandwiched between them. They have a life span of more than 20 years with decreasing efficiency.

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Both the photosynthesis process and the process by which solar cells transform solar energy to electric energy require the presence of sunlight. It is notable that neither of these processes can be performed without sunlight. Although these systems share this common similarity, they differ in various ways. The photosynthesis process is facilitated by living plant tissues. The process occurs in the leaves of green photoautotrophic plants and organisms like bacteria. The green color enables the organisms and plants to contain the compound chlorophyll that is essential in the photosynthesis process. While solar panel process results into the production of electric energy, photosynthesis produces multiple products that support life (Teng & Shields, 2010). Photosynthetic organisms’ utilize carbon dioxide in the process and release oxygen that supports respiration and life on earth. This process yields carbohydrates and leads to the growth of plant or organisms through tissues manufacture. Unlike the solar cells, plant cells use the photosynthetic process to reduce the amount of radiation from the sun through releasing oxygen that makes up the ozone layer.

Mutually, plant and solar cells utilize the energy from the sun and convert it to useful end products required by man. The end products differ since plant cells produce carbohydrates, oxygen and insulation from the radiation while solar cells produce electric energy used as a source of power. Besides, plant cells are living whereas solar cells are man-made from conducting materials. These cells however contain apparatus in them that are habitually used to convert solar energy. For instance, plant cells use chloroplast that has chlorophyll to convert solar energy to different end products while solar cells use good conductor materials like silicon for the process (Teng & Shields, 2010). Chlorophyll in plant cells is the green coloring substance in leaves while solar cells are dyed to make them more light absorbent. Solar panels do not make use of precipitation that occurs. In fact, they use more than 20% of all the sunlight that reaches the earth. They are said to be environmentally unsound if used on large scale among green plants as they use a lot of solar energy which reduces the amount available for photosynthesis. Unlike the plant cells, solar panels efficiency decrease with age.

Thermodynamics is applied in biology to quantitatively study the energy transductions that occur in and involving living organisms, structures and cells which are of nature and purpose of the chemical processes essential to such transductions (Lavergne & Joliot, 2000). Solar cells use solar energy to form electric energy and their efficiency is affected by property like age, shielding them from sunlight and dust particles on their reflection surface. Hence, thermodynamics mostly deals with heat exchange and transformation that occurs in both plant and solar cells.


Lavergne, J. & Joliot, P. (2000). Thermodynamics of the Excited States of Photosynthesis. Web.

Mader, S. S. (2008). Essentials of Biology. London, UK: McGraw-Hill Learning Solutions.

Teng, O. & Shields, S. (2010). Solar Cells versus Plant Cells: In Defense of Chlorophyll. Web.

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