Paul Leu Recieves NSF-CAREER Award for his Work on Flexible Metals

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 27 January 2016

PQI faculty Paul W. Leu is the recipient of the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, a prestigious award for junior faculty who exemplify outstanding research, teaching, and their integration. The five-year, $500,000 award will support research into the manipulation of metals at the micro- and nanoscale to develop thin yet flexible crystalline silicon for high efficiency, low cost solar cells. 

"Although solar cell technology continues to improve, it still relies upon rigid and bulky silicon that limits its range of use," Dr. Leu explained. "Our research is focused on designing new hierarchical metal structures that allow for a thinner, more flexible structures that can adapt to different shapes." 

Some of the research will be performed in the Swanson School’s Nanoscale Fabrication and Characterization Facility (NFCF), which is part of the Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering. The grant will also help develop a Google Streetview-like virtual tour of the limited-access cleanroom, so web visitors from around the world can see and learn about the facility, initiate a new graduate course in Statistical Design of Materials and provide opportunities for undergraduate research. 

"As we investigate multiple length scales within materials and develop new structural models, we see the potential for new metals to pave the way toward to lightweight and adaptive transparent conductors and solar cells," Dr. Leu said. "These structures may also be utilized for flexible sensors, photodetectors, and smart surfaces."

Read the original article here.