Using nanotechnology to make more efficient solar cells

Problem Title

Using nanotechnology to make more efficient solar cells

Scientific Title

Organic photoactive nanoparticles: altering internal packing and electronic properties

Student: 
John Charest
Major(s): 
Chemistry
iCons Concentration: 
Renewable Energy
iCons Class Year: 
Class of 2014
Executive Summary 

Organic Photovoltaic devices (OPVs) have many advantages over current Silicon solar cells, as they require less energy and material per cell. OPV efficiency increases when there is greater inter-facial area between the electron donating accepting materials which provide a direct path for electron conduction to electrodes. At UMass, we are packaging photoactive materials in nanoparticles in order to create OPVs that theoretically are more efficient than current methods. I am testing different non-ionic polymeric surfactants; these polymers keep the nanoparticles dissolved in water and act as the outer layer of the nanoparticle.

By changing the concentration of surfactant, the packing of the polymer inside the nanoparticle changes, which affects the photoelectric properties of the particle. This is evident by different shapes and light absorbances achieved by varying the concentration of surfactant. My research should aid in the optimization of the synthesis of nanoparticles created for OPVs, and hopefully improve the efficiency of these novel OPVs.

Problem Keywords: 
nanotechnology
solar
Scientific Keywords: 
non-ionic polymeric surfactants
organic photovoltaics