Jung-Kun Lee Awarded NSF Grant for Solar Cell Research

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 6 July 2012

Jung-Kun Lee has received a National Science Foundation grant for his research into solar cell energy conversion. The grant, "Solid State Dye Sensitized Solar Cells Using Tunable Surface Plasmons of Core-Shell Particles", is $290,724 over three years.  

In order to significantly improve the energy conversion efficiency of solar cells, a fundamental understanding is needed on how the light absorption mechanism, specifically related to solid dye sensitized solar cells (SDSSCs). One of a promising ways to control the light absorption is to exploit the resonance phenomenon, such as surface plasmons. The objectives of this research are to develop a fundamental understanding the physical interactions among surface plasmons, solar light modulation, and carrier/exciton generation, and to design the novel plasmonic particles (i.e. metal nanoshell) that enhance light absorption capacity of SDSSCs. The metal nanoshells will avoid inherent problems of the metal nanoparticles such as fixed plasmonic frequency, fabrication complexity, long-term aging and carrier transfer. Newly obtained knowledge on enhanced photon-electron conversion by metal nanoshells will enable to exploit the full potential of plasmonic SDSSCs. The proposed research holds the potential to provide new directions for the hybrid solar cells by extending current knowledge on the plasmonic nanostructures and the solar radiation harvesting. This work will generate knowledge on the plasmonic nanostructures and facilitate a new class of photovoltaic where the solar radiation absorption and the carrier generation are significantly improved. 

It is expected that the development of the proposed research will contribute to furthering the goal of energy security of the US. Given that the electricity produced from solar energy is more than 1% of the total annual electricity consumed in the US, the expected results of this research will contribute to increasing energy conversion efficiency by exploring surface plasmon enhanced light absorption and carrier generation. 

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