In this proposal, supported by the NSF CHE-DMR-DMS SOLAR Initiative, PIs describe their vision for new hybrid photovoltaic materials via nanoscale integration of organic and inorganic materials to exploit the unprecedented high extinction coefficient of conjugated polymers and high carrier mobility of the solid-state semiconductors. This study will address many fundamental questions pertinent to organic-inorganic hybrid solar cells that utilize nanoscale structures. Through unique world-class expertise in chemistry, materials, devices and mathematics, this project explores the effects of scale and structure as it applies to interface quality, material structure, energy transfer and electronic behavior. This work includes simultaneous study of polymer synthesis, polymer and nanostructure material as well as geometrical parameter optimization and spectroscopic study and device development. One of the compelling aspects of this work is the synthesis of polymers with complementary absorption and band offset to III-As and III-P inorganic semiconductors supported by mathematical calculations. In parallel, an in depth study will be conducted in the development of optimal nanostructure design for efficient light coupling, absorption and carrier extraction. A primary focus of this work will be on the roles of surface states, surface passivation and electronic coupling between organic semiconductors and inorganic nanostructures in hybrid solar cells. Intrinsic to PIs efforts will be state-of-the-art calculations on multiple conjugated polymer chains and surface passivation agents that will point the way toward enhancing carrier mobility and long-range energy transfer in these materials. Synthesis of new polymer materials to effectively pair with available III-V materials along with optimized nanostructure design will produce a new photovoltaic device fabric. NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: This program has been designed to include several targeted efforts to directly impact society through multidisciplinary, multi campus collaboration. At the core of this project is integrated research and education for students at all levels (K-12, undergraduate, graduate, postdoctorates). Through research involvement, summer workshops and campus exchange, this SOLAR program will generate highly skilled researchers and scientists. Direct outcomes of this project will be shared best practices in K-12 activities, a co-developed graduate course in solar cell development to emphasize organic synthesis/inorganic materials/modeling/analysis, URM student involvement in SOLAR research along with collectively strengthened industrial collaboration. In a more general sense, this research will provide fundamental understanding of the organic and inorganic material interfaces as well as electrical and optical properties of the hybrid solar cells. This study will broadly influence the basic design of future hybrid solar cells and their efficiency limits.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
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Linda S. Sapochak
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University of California Los Angeles
Los Angeles
United States
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