pho·​to·​vol·​ta·​ic | \ ˌfō-tō-väl-ˈtā-ik How to pronounce photovoltaic (audio) , -vōl- \

Definition of photovoltaic

: of, relating to, or utilizing the generation of a voltage when radiant energy falls on the boundary between dissimilar substances (such as two different semiconductors)

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Other Words from photovoltaic

photovoltaic noun

Sunshine and Photovoltaic

The -voltaic part of photovoltaic comes from the name of Alessandro Volta, inventor of the electric battery. Thus, unlike photoelectric cells, which use electricity for certain small tasks, photovoltaic (or PV) cells actually produce electricity. Solar cells, the standard type of photovoltaic cells (often called simply photocells), operate without chemicals and with no moving parts to create energy directly from sunlight. Much research is now being done on creating an alternative technology—solar film, which could be stuck onto almost any surface, or possibly even sprayed on.

Examples of photovoltaic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web At Soleil Lofts, each unit comes with a sonnen battery already installed; the complex was designed and outfitted with photovoltaic panels from Auric Solar that feed the battery packs. Erik Kobayashi-solomon, Forbes, "Want To Avoid Another Texas Debacle? Here Is How To Create A Clean, Resilient Electrical Grid," 25 Feb. 2021 The photovoltaic panels will go atop the public works building, the water and sewer building and seven schools. Jesse Leavenworth,, "Solar panels to be installed atop nine public buildings in Manchester," 15 Dec. 2020 Its companies are technology leaders in photovoltaic panels, which are seen as the leading source of future power, according to BloombergNEF. Dan Murtaugh,, "China’s Solar Stocks Are Surging After Xi’s 2060 Carbon Pledge," 8 Oct. 2020 Work in solar energy began in 1839, when a young French physicist named Edmond Becquerel discovered what is now known as the photovoltaic effect. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "How Solar Panels Work—and Where They're Headed Next," 28 Sep. 2020 China now produces over two-thirds of the world’s solar photovoltaic panels and lithium-ion batteries, and 45% of all wind turbines. Gernot Wagner,, "China’s Carbon Neutrality Goal is Good Policy and Good Politics," 25 Sep. 2020 Since then, Tesla has ventured into batteries, solar panels, self-driving software, photovoltaic roof tiles, underground transportation (via The Boring Company), and even interplanetary travel. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "Tesla’s bumpy road to today’s stratospheric stock price," 25 Sep. 2020 There are 30 solar panels on the roof, a photovoltaic glass awning across the facade and a double-helix wind turbine on one corner to help power the house, according to the listing agent. Sarah Tilton, WSJ, "Tom Steyer Asks $11 Million for Longtime San Francisco Home," 16 Sep. 2020 The home also has a translucent photovoltaic solar canopy that filters and produces electricity from sunlight. Eric Todisco,, "See Inside Anna Paquin and Husband Stephen Moyer's Quirky L.A. Home," 9 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'photovoltaic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of photovoltaic

circa 1889, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for photovoltaic

International Scientific Vocabulary

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Time Traveler for photovoltaic

Time Traveler

The first known use of photovoltaic was circa 1889

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Statistics for photovoltaic

Last Updated

3 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Photovoltaic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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Nglish: Translation of photovoltaic for Spanish Speakers

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