Solar energy is a growing demand in the United States as more funding has allowed this energy source to become much cheaper and more available to the average person. They are converting the suns energy into electricity using solar cells. This relies on the photoelectric effect which is the ability of matter to emit electrons when a light is shone on it. Silicon is a semi-conductor which makes it a key ingredient in making solar cells. Sunlight is composed of many photons and as these hit the silicon in the solar cells, they transfer the energy into loose electrons. This knocks them right off of the atom. After this, it is then needed to herd the stray electrons into an electric current. They do this by creating an electrical imbalance within a cell. Essentially a solar panel is just a big panel with lots of these little reactions going on in order to gain the electrical energy from it.