Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"Nanomaterials for Solar-Thermal Power Generation"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Summer 2011 - DURI
Research area(s):
Nanomaterials, Energy
Project Description:
Solar harvesting and conversion is a well known yet underutilized energy technology due to a combination of adverse technical and economic factors. While photovoltaic conversion has been widely studied, its actual use is minute relative to the scales of today’s and projected energy demand primarily because of high cost and poor scalability. Somewhat surprisingly, solar-thermal energy conversion is much more widely used around the world, but the inherently low solar energy flux has limited this technology to low-grade energy applications--primarily water heating. This project seeks to use nanomaterials (specifically graphite nanopetal arrays) to combine PV and thermal approaches locally--i.e., at the nanoscale--to take specific advantage of unique nanoscale processes of photon absorption and ‘hot’ electron generation.
Expected Student Contributions:
This project is primarily experimental and will involve: (a) synthesis of nanomaterials by plasma chemical vapor deposition, (b) use of high-vacuum chambers, and (c) measurements of photo-thermal electron emission spectra using a vacuum-based electron energy analyzer.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
Basic knowledge of electron band structure of metals and semiconductors, and solar absorption.
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?

Professor in Charge

Fisher, Timothy

Student Supervisor

Timothy Fisher

Cooperating Faculty

David Janes