Office of Undergraduate Research

Carbon Nanotubes: New Frontiers in Infrared Photovoltaics and Sensors

Rapid advancements in the nanotechnology field have catalyzed discovery of new classes of nanoelectronic materials and conversion schemes for application in photovoltaic (PV) modules. A critical shortcoming of the conventional PV-devices is related to their inability to covert incident solar power in the IR range, which constitutes up to ~ 40% of the total energy supplied by the sun. Semiconducting SWNTs, in particular were confirmed to exhibit excellent light absorption properties and can be implemented in all-carbon type-II IR-PV photovoltaic devices with efficiencies of up to ~ 5%. The goal of this research is to investigate PV-photoconversion characteristics of semiconducting SWNTs. The research will involve developing novel device prototypes, testing as well as analyzing photo-thermo-voltaic characteristics of carbon nanotube-based PV cells.

Tasks and responsibilities:

The undergraduate student will first undergo rigorous hands-on training on using a scientific research apparatus, get familiar with nano-fabricaiton approaches and will be trained in testing nanotube-based photovoltaic device prototypes under supervision of Ph.D. student in the PI's lab. The student will be next given their own research project and will be responsible for carrying out qualitative and quantitative analysis of the results, which will be discussed and presented during regular group meetings. In parallel, the student will take an upper-level PI's course, EE588 Fundamentals of Nanotechnology, which will allow them to gain proper theoretical background in the areas of Quantum Mechanics, Nano-electronics and device engineering practices as well as other broader aspects pertaining to the field of Nanotechnology.