First post for the year! I am so excited about starting this new research direction that I named this post after my favorite movie of all time, "Inception". Not only does it feature one of my favorite actors, Leo DiCaprio, but it introduced me to higher-level inquiry and thinking into concepts as diverse as espionage, neuroscience, and philosophy. I will never forget the first film that made me cry and think at the same time. Mind seriously blown.
But back to the post. How coincidental is it that I was working on my project when I got Veronica's email about starting a blog? ;) Today, I narrowed down what I want to work on for the year.
I am ready to begin writing my research plan, start researching at a deeper level, and put together background information for my research paper. Inspired and spurred by articles and papers I read while researching quantum dot solar cells, I have decided to dig deeper into a hot research direction for solar cells: rainbow solar cells. Rainbow solar cells are basically solar cells that have a bunch of layers in them, and each of these layers can be individually investigated (each can take in different wavelengths of solar energy) and ultimately create a much better efficiency in solar cells. Current research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that these "rainbow" or tandem or multijunction solar cells top the charts...
...But ultimately can't compete with fossil fuels yet! That's the front where I hope to investigate.
I want to apply quantum mechanics and computer programming (now Java, because of wider functionality and universality) to investigate three-dimensional properties of quantum dots, and then take that to the higher level, such as the synergistic effect in a quantum dot rainbow solar cell.
Article: "Synergistic effect discovered in layered quantum dot solar cells" by Lisa Zyga, on a study by Kamat Research Group at Notre Dame
Let me dissect the first sentence of this report. It was one of the main influencers in inspiring me.
"Scientists have discovered that a solar cell consisting of two or three layers of quantum dots, with each layer tuned to a different part of the solar spectrum, has an efficiency that is 40-60% higher than the sum of the efficiencies of separate solar cells each made of one of the individual layers."
The "solar cell consisting of two or three layers" is the classic tandem solar cell. To clarify, the "rainbow" solar cell is theoretically just a concept right now (it's the concept of a tandem solar cell that absorbs all energies of the "rainbow" and is thus uber-efficient), and the Notre Dame researchers were trying to test it.
Later in the article, I see this:
"Although the scientists aren't exactly sure what causes the synergistic effects, [they have some ideas]"
Okay, so I'll keep this article in my references (temporarily, at least).
Moving to the scientific journal paper that prompted the article,
"Tandem-Layered Quantum Dot Solar Cells: Tuning the Photovoltaic Response with Luminescent Ternary Cadmium Chalcogenides" by Pralay K. Santra and Prashant V. Kamat. Veronica, I have linked the abstract below, but I am wondering if you have access to this particular paper because of nice Catlin benefits?? Perhaps perhaps. Thank you.
So, planning ahead, this looks like a paper I could really analyze and present to the class. It's huge in the field and huge in influencing my decision to pursue the pot of gold at the end of the (quantum dot) rainbow (solar cell).
More coming soon. Thanks for reading!