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The Washington Research Foundation Fellowship

Nicholas Anderson, Chemistry - 2008-09 WRFF

Nicholas Anderson. 2008 WRFF recipient.I have been interested in research ever since I was in high school. I’ve always felt that studying was most valuable when the learning experience is hands on, and what could be more hands on than research? I chose to come to the University of Washington to pursue a degree in chemistry because of the opportunities provided by such a large institution. However, I began my research at the University of California, Santa Barbara during a summer internship in the Stucky lab. It was there that I first began working with quantum dot photovoltaics. On my return to the University of Washington, I quickly found a position in the Ginger lab which allowed me to continue my work with quantum dots and solar cells, work which I find both intellectually stimulating and scientifically productive. Over the summer, I worked at the Tyndall institute in Cork, Ireland, where I was exposed to another side of the scientific community. The Washington Research Foundation Fellowship has allowed me to continue working for Professor Ginger now that I am back in Seattle for my final year at the University of Washington. I plan on completing a senior thesis based on my work with polymer quantum dot blends, and am very grateful for the funding provided by this research grant.

Mentor: David Ginger, Chemistry; Kevin Noone, Chemistry

Project Title: Lead Selenide Quantum Dots in Organic Polymer Blends for Use in Photovoltaic Devices

Abstract: Organic photovoltaics offer an inexpensive alternative to current silicon technologies owing to their ability to be processed from solution. Semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) have been studied recently due to their broad absorption spectra and size-tunable energy levels.  In addition, ultrafast spectroscopy studies have indicated that charge multiplication is possible in the QDs, suggesting higher possible charge generation efficiencies.  The near infrared bandgaps of lead selenide QDs allow for the fabrication of photodiodes sensitive to a broader range of wavelengths than devices made from purely organic materials. Our lab synthesized QDs via the hot injection method with reaction time controlling the size, and therefore the bandgap, of the particles.  A range of sizes was synthesized and characterized by absorption and photoluminescence.  Large, bulky ligands act as a barrier to charge separation and charge mobility.  These bulky ligands must be exchanged for smaller ligands to incorporate the QDs into bulk heterojunction devices. In preparation for future spectroscopic studies and device fabrication, thick films of QDs were processed with high optical densities in the visible and near infrared.  Device studies have been carried on the established blends of Poly (3-Hexylthiophen) (P3HT) and [6,6]-phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) to prepare for PbSe QD/ Polymer devices. Initial device testing has been conducted on PbSe/P3HT blends, but with little success. In collaboration with the Jenekhe group from the University of Washington, Department of Chemical Engineering, we have selected a number of alternative polymers which we believe may form a Type II heterojunction with PbSe QD. Future device studies will include these novel polymers blended with PbSe QD in order to test this hypothesis.