Silicon photovoltaic devices do not effectively absorb infrared light. Recent research suggests that photon up-converting (UC) materials, which transform infrared light into visible light, can be used to boost photovoltaic efficiency up to 8%. Additionally, plasmonic metal nanoparticles can be used to boost the quantum yield of UC processes by 450X; plasmons in doped semiconductor nanocrystals promise even greater enhancements at lower cost. However, to design the next generation of high-efficiency UC solar cells, theoretical models of plasmons in doped semiconductor nanocrystals are needed. I propose to develop a first-principles model of carrier-doped semiconductor plasmons using a lightweight Hamiltonian construction capable of describing nanocrystal coupling to dielectric and nonlinear materials. I will combine analytical models with fast, flexible simulations to predict the enhancement of cutting-edge nanoparticle-UC photovoltaics. I will collaborate with the Gamelin group to compare my predictions with experiments on photodoped ZnO nanocrystals and test solar cell designs.
Advisor: David Masiello – Chemistry