Did you know that Edmond Becquerel was born today in 1820? He was a scientist who studied electricity, optics, luminescence, and phosphorescence. Luminescence is the production of light that does not come from heat; for example, a glow stick that produces light from a chemical reaction. Phosphorescence happens when an object absorbs energy when exposed to light and releases it gradually; for example, a glow-in-the-dark toy. In 1839 Edmond Becquerel created the first photovoltaic cell. A photovoltaic cell creates electricity when exposed to light; solar power is created by photovoltaic cells. The photovoltaic effect is also known as the “Becquerel effect” in his honor.
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Edmond Becquerel also studied magnetism, photography, optics, and the characteristics of solar radiation and light from other sources.
Edmond Becquerel’s photovoltaic cell consisted of silver chloride in an acidic solution with platinum electrodes. When exposed to light, the cell generated voltage and a current.
Edmond Becquerel also designed the phosphoroscope, a device to help scientists determine how long a phosphorescent material would glow after being exposed to a light source.
Edmond Becquerel published La lumière, ses causes et ses effets (Light, its Causes and Effects), which became a standard reference in the study of light and optics. He also contributed to scientific journals from 1839 until his death in 1891.
Edmond Becquerel is the son of Antoine César Becquerel, a scientist who studied electricity and luminescence, and the father of Henri Becquerel, one of the scientists who discovered radioactivity.