The goal of this CAREER project is to develop the fundamental scientific knowledge that will enable the design of modular flow reactors for the synthesis of nanocrystals (quantum dots) of perovskites. The target materials will be lead halide perovskite quantum dots that have potential applications in high-efficiency solar cells, high-definition color displays, and photocatalysis. This project will employ modular flow reactors to study the complex nucleation and growth mechanisms of these materials and develop the necessary process-structure-property relations required for optimal synthesis of perovskite quantum dots with tailored properties. The research program will be integrated with education and outreach programs aimed at training graduate and undergraduate students on flow chemistry, engaging grade 6-12 students through a modular reactor competition, educating the general public through YouTube videos, and recruiting members of underrepresented groups into STEM careers.
The proposed research will be focused on studying the nucleation process, growth kinetics and composition tuning of perovskite nanocrystals by deconvoluting the mixing and reaction times in a modular flow reactor using in situ monitoring of the crystal growth process. The fundamentals of perovskite nanocrystal nucleation will be studied under a controlled microscale mixing environment in the presence of stabilizing surface ligands. The reaction kinetics of crystal growth and composition tuning mediated by halide exchange reactions in flow will be studied using machine learning (ML)-enhanced process optimization to achieve precise tuning of emission bandgap (between 1.7 and 3 eV) with narrow linewidth (<90 meV and high photoluminescence (PL) quantum yield (>90%) to enable commercial applications of these materials. The structure (composition)-property (PL) relationship of lead halide perovskite nanocrystals enabled by halide exchange reactions in the modular flow reactor will be studied with the purpose of developing a platform for on-demand intelligent synthesis of perovskite nanocrystals with tailored properties. In addition to training a graduate student and two undergraduate students in research, the project will involve graduate and undergraduate curriculum development on flow chemistry and outreach activities aimed at grade 6-12 students, the general public, and at recruiting members of underrepresented groups into STEM careers in collaboration with the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and the Summer Transition Program for incoming minority freshmen in Engineering at North Carolina State University.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.