IATE term of the week: quantum dot solar cell

April 28, 2017 10:00 am

Solar energy is regarded as one of the energy sources of the future, and is the focus of numerous research and development projects worldwide. For instance, in April 2017 scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced the development of a photoelectrochemical cell capable of capturing excess photon energy normally lost to generating heat. This was made possible by using quantum dots and a process called Multiple Exciton Generation. For this reason, the IATE Term of the Week is quantum dot solar cell.


According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a quantum dot (QD) is ‘a semiconductor nanocrystal exhibiting quantum mechanical effects that allow it to mimic the properties of an atom’.

As stated by Lakshminarayanan and Bhattacharya (2015), quantum dot solar cells (QDSC) are produced using quantum dots, which are usually made with materials such as CdS, CdSe and Sb2S3. They contribute to the development of low cost cells, as they involve simple chemical reactions, and also help to improve efficiency, since they ‘can emit more than one electron for every photon absorbed’. Still, Lakshminarayanan and Bhattacharya claim (2015: 138) there are difficulties in the efficient production of quantum dot solar cells.

Quantum dot solar cells have been the focus of much research, and efforts are being made to improve the technology and solve efficiency issues.

The European Union environmental policy attaches considerable importance to the development and use of renewable energy sources, including solar energy. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that ‘Union policy on energy shall aim, in a spirit of solidarity between Member States, to […] promote energy efficiency and energy saving and the development of new and renewable forms of energy.’

The EU has recently funded a 2-year research project which focuses on quantum dot solar cell technologies for space and green energy. The 1 million EUR TFQD project will run until the end of 2017. According to Professor Liu from UCL, who is involved in the project, favourable power-to-weight ratio and high efficiency will allow the thin-film light-trapped enhanced quantum dot solar cells to bring breakthrough innovation in the design of solar arrays: mass and area saving as well as flexibility will result in miniaturisation, power consumption reduction, increased efficiency, versatility, and functionality of future satellites. The research also paves the way for new opportunities in the terrestrial renewable energy sector.

Here you can see the entry for quantum dot solar cell in IATE:


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quantum dot solar cell

We invite you to check some previous IATE Terms of the Week which are related to renewable energy and solar energy:

Written by:

Clara Gorría Lázaro – Translator-Terminologist and Terminology Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament,

and Yelena Radley, Terminology Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament.


  • Bush, Steve (2017) ‘Quantum dot solar inefficiency source found’, Electronics Weekly. Available at: http://bit.ly/2q5tkHs (Accessed 26 April, 2017)
  • DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory (2017) ‘Researchers capture excess photon energy to produce solar fuels’, Science Weekly. Available at: http://bit.ly/2plJcI7 (Accessed 26 April, 2017)
  • Lakshminarayanan, Vasudevan and Bhattacharya, Indrani  (eds) (2015) Advances in optical Science and Engineering: proceedings of the First International Conference, IEM OPTRONIX 2014. New Delhi: Springer.
  • Official Journal of the European Union (2012) Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Article 194(1c), CELEX:12012E/TXT. Available at: http://bit.ly/2q9URHU (Accessed 27 April, 2017)
  • TFQD Project (n.d.), ‘Thin Film light-trapping enhanced Quantum Dot photovoltaic cells: an enabling technology for high power-to-weight ratio space solar arrays’, TFQD Project Website. Available at: https://tfqd.eu/ (Accessed 26 April, 2017)
  • UCL Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering (n.d.) EU H2020 Grant Award. Available at: http://bit.ly/2q6m9yY (Accessed 26 April, 2017)

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