03 Engr Rsrch

Chemical Engineering Research

Solar (photo) Cell(s):
Operation Principles, Construction, Demonstration,
Efficiency, Implementation into the Home Environment 
This event is limited to the first 15 entries 


Implementation and use of Solar Energy is growing rapidly in the United States and in developed countries. They are used for power in roadway emergency call stations, on several homes in communities, industries are using them on commercial buildings, utilities are planning for larger scale use, research scale units are under development for supply to entire communities.    

  • The objective for the research team is to acquire background information on construction of a lab – research scale Solar Cell, select a design, construct and demonstrate an operating cell.
  • You also need to evaluate your cell’s performance using an NJIT provided light source.
  • Your research project will also be evaluated on basis of economics.
  • Describe how a solar cell system can be implemented into a conventional home. 


  • Search for background information on photocells as well as the construction and operation of an experimental - Lab Scale Solar (Photo) Cell.
  • The equipment size is research – lab scale  (must fit in 6" diameter circle)
  • Record your data and perform needed calculations.
  • Write a paper that demonstrates your understanding of the chemical principles involved in constructing and operating the photocell.
  • Present a drawing of your equipment and schematic of circuit.
  • Event Day - teams are expected to bring a physical working model. (Review specific requirements below)

Device Construction and Operation

  • The photocell must fit in a  6 inch diameter circle.  It will be tested using a Phillips EcoVantage 1350 lumen Spotlight projected into a 5"to 6" Reducer.  (See demonstration picture linked below photocell_test.jpg)
  • Total cost of final product shall not exceed $150.

  Student Research

  • Student research and paper should explore the chemical reactions and principles that allows the photocell to generate electricity.   In addition, unique aspects of the photocell should be highlighted.
  • Paper should include the following:
    1. Explanation of how photocells are used to convert radiation into electrical energy.  
    2. Experimental approach and factors used to design a photocell.  Experimental data should be collected that demonstrates efficiency of the photocell in terms of surface area.
    3. Provide a materials list with an verifiable cost value in terms of supplies used to construct the working photocell.
    4. A schematic diagram including circuit, voltmeter, ammeter and load.  
    5. A labeled picture of the photocell should be available clearly identifying parts and materials.
  • Research paper and Power Point must follow guidelines posted below.

   Event Day
  • Teams should be prepared to demonstrate the photocell using and calculate power generated and the efficiency of solar cell.
  • All circuit components and meters must be set up by team infront of  judges to show basic competency in electrical systems.
  • Demonstrate your equipment using your and an NJIT Chem Olympics supplied light source.  

Paper & Poster Guidelines
  • All sources of information must be identified clearly (written sources as well as a list of people who provided assistance)
  • All research papers must be built upon information acquired from a minimum of 3 PRIMARY SOURCES.  Although Internet sources may also be utilized in addition to the primary sources judges will be looking at how students select and use information gathered from primary sources.  Examples of primary sources include articles found in peer-reviewed professional journals such as Nature, Science and Journal of Chemical Education.  Peer-reviewed professional journals are available at post-secondary academic libraries.  Peer-reviewed journals that are accessed online are acceptable.  Magazines such as Discover, Science News, Popular Science and Scientific American, although informatory are not peer-reviewed professional journals. You are required to submit photocopies of the first three pages of each primary source used in your paper.
  • Any conclusions you form must be based upon your own experimental data from experiments you conduct at your own high school facility.  Commercial assistance is not permitted.
  • Your written report may not exceed five pages - 12 pt., double spaced plus a 2-Part Appendix (see below) 
  • Include a cover page that indicates the title of the paper, authors, school, team A or B (if applicable)
  • The Appendix must include: 

    Part 1: up to 10 pages of diagrams, charts, etc.

    • Materials list with an verifiable cost value in terms of supplies used to construct the working photocell.
    • A schematic diagram including circuit, voltmeter, ammeter and load.  
    • A labeled picture of the photocell should be available clearly identifying parts and materials.
    • Collected and analyzed test data (demonstrates testing of experimental design)
    • A complete listing of references used in your research (written sources as well as a list of people who provided assistance)

    Part 2 (minimum 3 pages)

    • Photocopies of the first page of the primary source articles used in your research -- excluding the Abstract.
    • Abstract in lieu of article are not acceptable.

  • Prepare either a Power Point presentation that summarizes your research.  Presentations must reflect the information and data presented in the written report.  Schools must supply their own computers, LCD projectors and/or overhead projectors.  A screen will be made available.
  • The written paper and poster/Power Point must adhere to the ACS Style Guide.
  • Be prepared to make a 3-5-minute oral presentation, one-on-one with the judges.
  • Four (4) copies of the complete report (plus DVD/CD, if applicable) must be received by the Director of the NJCO by the deadline indicated in the Competition Guidelines. The reports must be clearly labeled with the school name.  If applicable, also indicate, team A or B.
  • In addition to submitting 4 paper copies of each research paper, teams are also required to submit their papers to turnitin.com for review.  All submissions must be in the form of a single file in MS-Word format.
  • Bring one extra copy of your report the day of the event.
  • A team may be disqualified, if they are not ready to start at the scheduled time of their presentation.


  • Written report – 15%
  • Poster/Power point – 10%
  • Oral Presentation / Explanation of Principles of Operation – 20%
  • Construction (Economics Considered) - 15%
  • Measure / Demonstrate Efficiency – 15%
  • Description of Implementation - 10%

Team Identification

It is crucial to identify all submissions with the information below, to prevent mix-up.  In particular, schools with multiple teams must clearly differentiate between team A and B

Each submission (research reports, CDs, DVD, reports, etc) must include the following 4 items:

  1. Name of school
  2. Team A or B designation, if applicable
  3. Names of students (clearly printed legibly)
  4. Name of coach



Event developed by Joe Bozzelli and Mirko Schoenitz, NJIT

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Subpages (1): Track Pictures
Natalie Macke,
Jan 24, 2014, 6:19 AM