We report colloidal quantum dot solar cells fabricated under ambient atmosphere with an active area of 2.9 mm2 that exhibit 3.6% solar power conversion efficiency. The devices are based on PbS tuned via the quantum size effect to have a first excitonic peak at 950 nm. Because the formation of native oxides and sulfates on PbS leads to p-type doping and deep trap formation and because such dopants and traps dramatically influence device performance, prior reports of colloidal quantum dot solar cells have insisted on processing under an inert atmosphere. Here we report a novel ligand strategy in which we first encapsulate the quantum dots in the solution phase with the aid of a strongly bound N-2,4,6-trimethylphenyl-N-methyldithiocarbamate ligand. This allows us to carry out film formation and all subsequent device fabrication under an air atmosphere. © 2010 American Chemical Society.