Glossary

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amorphous
A solid that has an irregular, badly defined arrangement of atoms in it.

atom
The smallest particle of an element. It is made up of protons, electrons and neutrons.

compound
A substance containing atoms or ions of two or more elements that are chemically combined.

crystalline
A solid that has a regular arrangement of atoms in it.

current
The rate of flow of electric charge.

dye
A substance used to colour

electromagnetic radiation
The energy emitted by the sun which consists of gamma ray, x-ray, ultra-violet, visible light, infra-red, microwave and radio-wave regions, defined by the wavelength of the radiation.

electron
A negatively-charged particle found in an atom.

electron-transporter
A material that moves electrons from one place to another.

emit
To let out or release.

energy level
A definite stable energy that a system can have, e.g. an atom.

exciton
An electron-hole pair formed in a small space after absorption of energy.

fullerene
A molecule made from carbon atoms that is round in shape, like a football.

hole
The postively-charged space formed when an electron has left an atom or molecule.

hole-transporter
A material that moves positive “holes” from one place to another.

lattice
The arrangement of particles in a crystal.

luminescent
A material that emits light but not heat.

material
A substance or thing of which something is made of.

molecule
Two or more atoms bonded together. The atoms can be from the same element or different elements.

nanocrystal
A very small crystal that has dimensions on the nanometre scale, or 10-9 metres.

nanotechnology
Any technology that makes use of materials that are on the nanometre scale.

oxide
A compound of oxygen and another element.

parallel circuit
A circuit in which the power source is directly connected up to two or more components. If there is a break in the circuit, only the component in that particular circuit will be affected.

photon
A particle of light.

photovoltaic
Used to describe something that converts light energy into electrical energy.

polymer
A long chain of repeating units

properties
The behaviour and character of something.

proton
A postively charged particle found at the centre of an atom.

semiconductor
A substance that conducts electricity under certain conditions.

series circuit
A circuit in which the power source is connected up to the components one after another. If the circuit breaks anywhere, none of the components will work.

solar cell
A device that converts sunlight into electricity

total internal reflection
The way light can travel through a substance by bouncing off the “walls” of it so that the light is always confined within the substance.

titanium dioxide
A semiconductor consisting of a combination of the elements titanium and oxygen.

voltage
The potential different or “push” between two points.

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