Photocells: the Valves which operate by Light

    Article metrics


    ONCE the potentialities of devices in which the action of light produces or changes the magnitude of an electric current are properly appreciated, they are likely to become very widely employed. At least four types of these are now available: the selenium cell and its congeners, the alkali metal cell—operating on the external photoelectric effect, and often called a photoelectric cell to the exclusion of the others—the electrolytic cell, and the dry plate rectifier cell. Of these, the electrolytic cell, in which the electromotive force is changed when the electrodes are exposed to light, is as yet little understood, although it is likely to be of value for some purposes. More attention is being paid to the rectifier cell, which is the development of a crystal rectifier which has been found recently to be sensitive to light and is going to be very important. Selenium cells employ a half conductor of a similar type to the crystal, but work simply by its change in resistance when illuminated, Ohm's law being obeyed, which is not true of rectifiers.

    Rights and permissions

    Reprints and Permissions

    About this article

    Cite this article

    Photocells: the Valves which operate by Light. Nature 129, 66–67 (1932) doi:10.1038/129066b0

    Download citation


    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.