How does a photoreceptor cell function?
The simplest way of describinng thier function (in other words, giving up
just a little bit of accuracy in order to speak english) is that when
photons strike the electrons in certain atoms, they may displace the
electrons to another nearby atom. Some types of atoms are more prone to
having thier electrons displaced than others, so by using two different
types of material, you can pick up a little bit of current from one material
to the other.
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Update: June 2012