goal of my research is to explore new, inexpensive materials that
address issues with current efficient dye-sensitized solar cells
(DSSCs). Many of the components used in the highest efficiency cells
are costly, produce undesirable side products, or are not stable for
long periods of time.
developed a reproducible solar cell fabrication method, providing a
baseline to compare the changes we make to the solar cell. Our group is
synthesizing and studying new iron (II) compounds for use as dyes in
DSSCs. Iron is about eight magnitudes more abundant than ruthenium, the
most efficient transition metal used for dyes. I am looking into new
redox couples and semiconductor materials for incorporating these iron
compounds into our solar cells.
also have been working to reduce platinum loading to the counter
electrode by introducing a new design: platinum nanoclusters suspended
on a layer of graphene sheet developed by Prof. Larry Drzal’s group in
Materials Science. The nanoclusters provide for a controllable decrease
in Pt loading while increasing the Pt surface area.
We have also
begun to look into solid-state electrolytes in collaboration with Prof.
Greg Baker’s group in Chemistry, for use in DSSCs. One of the
predominant problems of the solvent-based electrolyte is the volatility
and its inability to be stable at higher temperatures that a solar cell
will need to withstand. We are examining electrolytes that are not
solvent based, rather ionic liquid or polymer-based.
(also Baker and Drzal groups) is also working with Prof. Promislow and
Prof. Christlieb from the Math Department to use modeling to (just to
name a few) help understand the processes in our solar cells that I
fabricate from the standard and new electrolyte/counter electrode
materials, also hopefully anticipate the effects new materials will
have to solar cell performance.
In addition to solar cell
efficiencies, I will be looking into the rates of electron transfer and
how changes to the cell affect these rates using voltage decay
experiments, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and time-resolved
nanosecond spectroscopy on fully functioning cells.