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The Washington Research Foundation Fellowship

Noah Horwitz, Chemistry - 2009-10 WRF/Space Grant

Buckley Kate photoI knew I enjoyed chemistry when I entered the UW, but didn't decide to major in it until I took the honors introductory chemistry sequence.  The sequence was well-taught and helped me become excited about chemistry through the demonstrations and labs.  The class also introduced me to the possibility of participating in research in chemistry.  I contacted several professors, and eventually decided to work with Professor David Ginger, one of my professors in the aforementioned course.

Over the past year, I have been able to work directly with Professor Ginger and the graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and other undergraduates in his lab.  I think this direct connection to experts in my field of study has been invaluable to my development as a scientist.  In addition, being able to apply concepts learned in my chemistry, math, and physics classes has added depth to my education.  Finally, I have learned a lot about organic photovoltaics, an exciting and important field.

Being able to work on real research projects across a diversity of topics is a major benefit of attending a large research institution like the UW.  I feel that I have been able to engage my education much more effectively by choosing to participate in research, and I thank the Washington Research Foundation Fellowship for supporting this important facet of my education.

Mentor: David Ginger, Chemistry

Project Title: Built-in Field Measurements of Polymer Photovoltaics

Abstract: Generating electricity from sunlight would be an attractive solution to our current energy problems. However, the high cost of processing the materials for silicon photovoltaics has limited the widespread use of this technology. Solution processable organic semiconductors could offer an inexpensive route to utilizing this clean and abundant energy source, but devices made from these materials are currently too inefficient to be economically viable. Photovoltaic devices utilize energy from an absorbed photon to generate free charge carriers, producing an electric current. Some losses in efficiency may occur during the separation of charge carriers, which is driven by the built-in electric field of the device. We have measured this field directly using electroabsorption spectroscopy. Initial measurements on sequentially deposited indium tin oxide (ITO)/polymer/metal structures have indicated that the built-in field follows the difference in electrode work functions, for contacts with work functions within the polymer energy gap. Future work will focus on correlating built-in field measurements of more complex device structures with electrode work function and device efficiency.