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Nano Energy Lab

The focal point of the Nano Energy Lab is to advance fundamental understanding of novel inorganic nanostructures integrated with photoelectronic organic materials, in order to expand the field of nanomaterials for renewable energy devices and systems.  

The Nano Energy Lab is a multi-departmental effort to (1) develop a new Photovoltaics Process and Analysis Facility cluster at North Carolina State University and (2) build research teams to focus on new inorganic and organic nanostructured surfaces and interfaces specifically designed to exploit principles of light-harvesting and directed energy transduction.  

Faculty and Students

View more information about the people working at the Nano Energy Lab here.


Inorganic Nanostructures for Photovoltaics

The research focuses on understanding the chemical and physical mechanisms required to systematically promote and enable new inorganic core-shell nanostructures for inorganic, dye-sensitized and hybrid organic/inorganic photovoltaic devices.  Such unique nanostructures enable large densities of surface-functionalized molecules to be exposed to sunlight, where the density and location of electron and hole transfer sites are well defined and controlled to promote rapid charge collection and transport to the external electrodes.  Material process and fabrication technology is investigated by means of atomic layer deposition,  e-beam evaporation,  and nano-lithography to formulate well controlled and pre-designed material composition and nanoscale architecture.

Photoactive Nano-Materials

The objective of this research is to create novel organic photovoltaic materials and devices.   This includes the development of a generation of organic photovoltaic materials that operate on the basis of water-based polyelectrolyte-doped gels.  By doping the agarose-based gel diodes with ionic photosensitive molecules, a unidirectional current response has been achieved.   These light harvesting devices have the potential to be extremely inexpensive, flexible, scalable and environmentally friendly.

In addition, novel organic photovoltaic semiconductors based fused aromatic polymers are being developed.   These graphite-type materials offer enhanced charge transport properties and broad spectral absorption response.   Also these types of molecules can potentially be relatively chemically inert to oxidative or thermal stresses as compared to many other types of organic molecules.    Research is being conducted in the chemical process to form these materials and the incorporation of these materials into the unique nanostructures being developed.  


Photovoltaics Process and Analysis Facility

The Photovoltaics Process and Analysis Facility provides a functional photovoltaics device fabrication, testing, and evaluation laboratory at NC State.  The facility is housed in Engineering Building 1 on NC State’s Centennial Campus. The specialized equipment for photovoltaic device fabrication includes metal oxide and metal deposition by e-beam evaporation and atomic layer deposition.   In addition, the facility is in process of acquiring an inert atmosphere glove box for fabrication of air sensitive photoactive materials and low work function metal deposition.   The facility also provides various analysis techniques for device analysis including electrical probe stations (C-V, I-V), a Newport 91160 300W solar simulator, various spectroscopic techniques (UV-Vis, Ellipsometry, FT-IR), and optical analysis. 


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