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Solar cells often capture the public's attention and are a source of fascination to students (Hamakawa 1987, Zweibel 1990). We have found it profitable to tap this interest in solar cells by introducing students at an early stage of their undergraduate curriculum to the rudiments of photovoltaic devices. The purpose of this article is to describe a very simple experiment that allows college students in introductory physics courses to plot the I-V characteristics of a solar cell, and hencedoi:10.1088/0031-9120/29/4/014 fatcat:z3mwia7vifah3mwnkahslt3xwy