Novel Physical Principles Research Thrust

The Novel Physical Principles research thrust of the Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics involves novel physical principles for harvesting light and converting it into electrical charges. The focus is on unique physics of nanoscale materials that can boost the efficiency of solar-energy conversion through unique interaction regimes not accessible with traditional condensed-matter or molecular systems. Three specific topics being explored are described below.

Manipulation of Light-Matter Interactions Using Plasmonic and Photonic Nanostructures

Activities in this area:

This work builds on extensive expertise of Rice University participants in nanoplasmonics and expertise and experimental capabilities of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) team members in semiconductor nanostructures.

Carrier Multiplication and Competing Energy-Loss Mechanisms

Activities in this area:

Illustration where the upper half shows three ladder-like diagrams of electrons and holes being formed at different levels as energy is absorbed or lost. The bottom half shows related illustrations to the above three, but in a form of electrons and holes moving around or beyond atomic nuclei.

Carrier multiplication—or creating two excitons with one high-energy photon—is shown schematically on an energy ladder (top) and within the crystal lattice (bottom).

Spectroscopic studies in this area represent a joint effort between LANL, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the University of Colorado and will take advantage of complementary capabilities and expertise in a wide range of spectroscopies including femtosecond techniques, nonlinear coherent methods, and terahertz and single-nanostructure spectroscopies. The colloidal synthesis effort primarily resides at LANL. The theory component takes advantage of LANL facilities for high-performance computing, as well as advanced analytic methods.

Control of Excited-State Dynamics

Activities in this area:

The proposed work is conducted as a joint spectroscopic effort between LANL and NREL, supported by theoretical work at LANL and by external consultants.