This project addresses low-cost photovoltaic (PV) thin film technology that can offer alternative methods to integrating solar energy technology into building envelops. The integration of solar-harvesting components into the building envelope is a transformative route to capturing solar energy for electricity generation while lowering effective solar cell installation costs and improving building energy efficiency. This fundamental research project addresses low-cost thin-film organic photovoltaic technology that is highly transparent in the visible light spectrum enabling integration onto windows, glazing systems, and siding in the building envelope. This project addresses fundamental research to increase the power conversion efficiency of these thin-film transparent systems by increasing absorption of near infrared light using oxide plasmonic nanoparticles embedded in the device. The research will exploit unique optical properties of oxide plasmonic nanoparticles in the near-infrared regime to enhance light absorption and power conversion efficiency. The project will also advance the fundamental understanding of oxide plasmonic nanoparticles, which are promising for a wider range of applications such as thermal management and night vision devices. The educational and outreach component of this project will train graduate and undergraduate researchers to gain a new level of understanding of light and matter at the nanometer scale.
Existing transparent organic photovoltaics have low efficiency due to the use of less than 50% of incident near-infrared sunlight. The objective of this project is to identify and understand mechanisms by which localized surface plasmon resonances of oxide plasmonic nanoparticles enhance the power conversion efficiency of transparent organic photovoltaics. With their low-concentrated free electrons and localized surface plasmon resonances in the near-infrared regime, oxide plasmonic nanoparticles will enhance near-infrared light absorption by organic thin films and the photon-current conversion in transparent organic photovoltaics while retaining visual transparency of the devices. The specific research aims include: (1) synthesize and characterize oxide plasmonic nanoparticles that support near-infrared localized surface plasmon resonances, (2) probe electron and energy transfer at the interfaces of organic thin films and oxide plasmonic nanoparticles, and (3) investigate efficiency enhancement of transparent organic photovoltaic devices that incorporate oxide plasmonic nanoparticles. The project will advance fundamental knowledge in the field of optoelectronics of oxide plasmonic nanoparticles and transparent organic photovoltaics.