Senior Research Projects 2010 - 2011

Quantum Dot-Sensitized Solar Cell - Christopher J. Funch '11

Abstract: As fossil fuel resources become limited alternative methods of producing affordable and reliable energy will become increasingly important. The development and advancement of solar cell technology, such as the quantum dot-sensitized solar cell (QDSC), could drive such a transition to more reliable forms of alternative energy. We characterized a collection of four quantum dot (QD) solutions to better understand their functional properties and possible application in the construction of a QDSC. Thirteen QDSCs were constructed and characterized along with a conventional silicon solar cell for comparison. We observed, independently, the effect of adding QDs and the effect of adding more electrolyte solution to some of our cells. Both of these actions increased the performance of the cell. The energy conversion efficiency (η) and fill factor (FF) were calculated for our highest performing, handmade cell. These were 0.031±0.002% and 0.38±0.02 respectively. For our conventional cell these efficiencies were and respectively. The excitation energies of the QDs used were primarily outside of the solar spectrum in the ultraviolet. This makes them limited in their solar cell application with minimal excitation in the visible and infrared. However, QDs with a different energy structure may show more promise in future research.

For more information, contact Dr. Catherine Jahncke

The Micro Hall Effect - Tyler Hendrickson '11

Abstract: For years, the semiconductor industry has conducted quality control of large silicon wafers through the use of four-point resistance measurements. However, a similar four-point probe designed to detect a localized Hall Effect could offer more information about the sample, at a resolution similar to that of the resistance probes in use today. The Hall Effect is the presence of a measurable voltage that is perpendicular to both a current and the magnetic field through which it flows. The aim of this experiment is to determine if a small Hall Effect probe of square configuration would be feasible by measuring the Hall voltage as a function of the ratio between the probe size and sample size.

For more information, contact Dr. Daniel Koon