One approach to solar energy capture and conversion is through luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs). LSCs are translucent devices embedded with luminophores that concentrate light at their edges. Photovoltaic devices can be coupled to the edges of LSCs, where they collect the concentrated light to produce a current. Because they are semi-transparent, passive, work well with indirect light, and can be made to cover large areas, LSCs occupy a unique application space for solar energy conversion technologies. For LSCs to work efficiently, their luminophores must emit light at a lower energy (longer wavelength) than the light they absorb. My research will focus on making new semiconductor nanomaterials that incorporate impurity ions for use as luminophores. Many desirable impurity ions can be identified that have sharp emission lines, but attempts to incorporate most of these into traditional semiconductor nanocrystals have thus far been unsuccessful. By developing new doping chemistries, it should be possible to develop a new class of sensitized nano-emitters with extended absorption throughout the visible range, and low reabsorption of their own emission. Such materials would be strong candidates for application in various LSC architectures.
Advisor: Daniel Gamelin