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Plasmon-enhanced Solar Cells

Localized surface plasmons are the collective oscillation of conduction band electrons in noble metal nanoparticles that occur in response to electromagnetic radiation. They give rise to dramatic enhancements of the electric field at the particle surface, and have been used to increase the strength of many optical phenomena (e.g., surface enhanced Raman scattering). We are currently evaluating the utility of silver and gold nanoparticles as light-harvesting elements within different cell designs - effectively turning the nanoparticles into nanoscale antennas for visible light!

Stability and Surface Chemistry of Anisotropic Nanoparticles

As part of our efforts to incorporate these nanomaterials into devices, we have had to answer fundamental questions about the stability of anisotropic metal nanoparticles and to introduce novel surface chemistries to better solubilize and/or protect the nanoparticle. One recent example was the development of an amide-coupling strategy to solubilize triangular silver nanoprisms in the organic solvents required to prepare many optoelectronic devices (L. Liu and T. L. Kelly, Langmuir, 2013, 29, 7052-7060 [DOI: 10.1021/la4005856]). Our ongoing efforts in this area address fundamental questions of nanoparticle stability, as elucidated through a combination of transmission electron microscopy and X-ray absorption spectroscopy.