Solar energy is an attractive source of alternative energy contributing to fossil fuel independence. Research is still needed to bring down the cost of solar cells for commercial use. For this, novel concept solar cell research make use of low cost materials with novel techniques, often at the nanoscale. The main aim of this grant proposal lays in the development of ultra precise nanoparticles with sizes where quantum confinement becomes dominant. With these so called quantum dots (QD) the band gap of any semiconductor can be tailored by changing the size thereby harvesting different parts of the solar spectrum. The applicant has worked for 8 years outside the Netherlands and will endeavour to establish a new research line in quantum dot photovoltaics. This Career Integration Grant will help him to reach a solid starting point from which to apply to project funding in national and international consortia. A nanoparticle source (gas aggregation in vacuum) will enable the production of ultra precise nanoparticles (silicon, germanium, etc), i.e. high size control, which will considerably enhance the quality of the QD solar cell and the involved processes. A second research theme is the use of plasmonics of metal nanostructures (particles) to enhance optical absorption in solar cells. Both field enhancement and plasmonic coupling will be explored.
The applicant has extensive international research experience in the field of nanoparticles. Combined with the host expertise in photovoltaics this forms a formidable effort to advance the science and technology of novel concepts in solar cells. The applicant has a tenure track assistant professor position and will start his own research team within the host group. The existing infrastructure and expertise are readily available to make this project a success resulting in a permanent position for the applicant and significant contribution to frontier solid state physics research towards a highly efficient and cheap solar cell.
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