Nanosociety Meeting TOMORROW Friday @ 12:00 pm, McCullough 115: Trying To Make Solar Cells Better Using Nanotechnology: A Graduate Student's Journey to Figure Out Something New In A Crowded Field

Jared Schwede schwede at
Thu Nov 11 10:46:11 PST 2010

Tomorrow at 12 pm, the nanosociety will be hosting a special talk by our co-founder and former president, Brian Hardin. In this unique lecture, Brian will talk about the process he went through in graduate school to create the highly successful research projects that became his thesis work. Undergraduates and young graduate students are especially encouraged to attend. 

As always, the meeting will be in McCullough 115, and FREE PIZZA will be served at 11:55 am. 

Want to learn more about the nanosociety? Join the mailing list: 

Trying To Make Solar Cells Better Using Nanotechnology: 
A Graduate Student's Journey to Figure Out Something New In A Crowded Field 

Brian Hardin 
Department of Materials Science and Engineering 
Graduate of the McGehee Group 

Public interest and research dollars in the field of solar power has increased exponentially in the last decade creating an influx of hungry graduate students looking to make improvements in well studied systems in a variety of weird, often times fundamentally flawed ways. Creating research projects that are both novel and potentially useful is a very long and daunting process. I will begin by discussing how I developed my research projects involving dye-sensitized solar cells, which eventually became my thesis, and then describe our current research efforts in solar power. 

Scientific Title: Using Energy Transfer in Nanoporous Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells to Improve Light Harvesting 

Liquid Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) are an emerging PV technology with the potential for large scale manufacturing and low cost processing. However, the power conversion efficiency of DSCs must increase from 11% to 14% to be commercially competitive with conventional solar cell technologies. DSCs do not completely absorb all of the photons from the visible and near infrared portion of the solar spectrum and consequently have lower short circuit photocurrent densities compared to inorganic photovoltaic devices. A variety of sensitizing dyes have been explored, but it is extremely challenging to develop a single dye that can absorb in the visible and NIR spectrum. I will present a new design where energy relay dyes unattached to the titania absorb high energy photons and transfer their energy to the sensitizing dye via Förster resonant energy transfer. This novel architecture allows for broader spectral absorption and an increase in dye loading. In liquid DSCs, we have demonstrated a 26% increase in the power conversion efficiency when using an energy relay dye with an organic, near-infrared sensitizing dye. 
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