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Nanomaterials and nanostructures are critical to our Nation’s energy future. In this Thrust we have assembled an interdisciplinary team of chemists, physicists and engineers to synthesize, fabricate, characterize and implement nanostructures with the aim of enhancing energy efficiency in two initial areas 1) Solid State Lighting and 2) Solar Energy Conversion. This research thrust in nanostructures ties to Thrust 1 and Thrust 2 in several ways: First, we will be aim to enhance solar energy conversion in the devices proposed in Thrust 1, second, we will fabricate novel nanostructures which may have a role in enhancing energy storage (Thrust 2), and third, we will synthesize new nanomaterials which may find use in energy conversion, storage and batteries.




-Synthesize and optimize the properties of semiconductor nanocrystals, carbon nanotubes, graphene, and nanodiamond for use in energy applications.

-Characterize optical nanomaterials with single nanoparticle fluorescence and time resolved spectroscopy

-Study the field emission of carbon nanostructures using an insulated gate electrode and n-type doping

-Construct photovoltaics incorporating different nanocomponents such as semiconductor nanocrystal light harvesters (CdSe, PbS, FeS2), CuO nanocrystal hole transporting materials, and graphene electrodes. 

-Determine structure-efficiency relationships in nanostructured photovoltaics with electron beam induced current microscopy and scanning probe current microscopy.

-Test the structural stability of nanocomponent based devices.


Planned Infrastructure Improvements


-New faculty expertise (nanomaterials and energy, chemical engineering and energy storage)

-New instrumentation for the fabrication and characterization of nanostructures and nanostructured based devices

-Graduate student fellows

-Establishment of K-12 outreach networks


Anticipated Outcomes


-Creation of new nanomaterials with properties that can be exploited in energy applications  (connect to Thrust 1 and Thrust 2)

-Improved understanding of factors that affect efficiency in nanostructured solar cells (connect to Thrust 1)

-Improved solar cell performance through the use of nanostructures