Advanced Photoelectrochemical Paradigms for Enhanced Dye-sensitized Solar Cells
Project Description: Dye-sensitized solar cells are a model photoelectrochemical system that converts sunlight to electricity. The device efficiency is currently limited by constraints such as slow diffusive electron transport in the photoanode, the conflict between light harvesting efficiency and charge collection efficiency, and the Shockley-Queisser Limit that sets the maximum theoretical efficiency of any single-junction solar cell to be no more than ~31%. The main focus of research in the Xu group is to explore transformative paradigms for enhanced elementary charge transport and light harvesting processes, using dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) as a facile exploratory platform. This project includes a number of subtasks that would be suitable for undergraduate participants in Operation ETank, such as the synthesis of photonic crystal-structured transparent conducting oxides electrode and plasmonic metal nanoparticles in Dr. Xu's lab at NIU, and structural characterizations at Argonne National Laboratory's Electron Microscopy Center. The graduate students in the Xu group have extensive expertise in materials synthesis, characterization and PV measurements, and will serve as peer coaches for the undergraduate participants during the REU experience.