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HEMI Seminar: Susanna Thon (JHU)

May 3, 2019 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Spectral Engineering of Nanomaterials for Robust Solar Energy Harvesting
Susanna Thon
Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Johns Hopkins University

Inorganic colloidal nanoparticles are attractive materials for energy harvesting applications because they combine flexible, low-cost solution-phase synthesis and processing with the potential for novel functionality arising from their nanostructure. This talk will focus on engineering two types of nanoparticle-based devices for specific applications in solar energy conversion. Colloidal quantum dots (CQDs) are semiconducting particles with band gaps that can be tuned via the quantum confinement effect for tailored spectral utilization.  Lead sulfide-based CQDs can be tuned throughout the near- and mid-infrared wavelengths and are a promising materials system for photovoltaic devices that harvest non-visible solar radiation.  Recent work on novel color-tuning strategies for CQD-based solar cells and photodetectors will be discussed. This includes employing multi-objective optimization to build controlled-color and transparent solar cells, and using photonic band structure engineering in absorbing materials to tailor the absorption profile of photovoltaic devices.  The development of new instrumentation for characterizing performance-limiting defects in CQD-based films using multi-modal scanning technologies will also be discussed.

Plasmonic nanoparticles are related metallic materials with localized surface plasmon resonances that can be tuned by adjusting particle size, shape, and composition. This talk will review work on the first photophysical characterization of energy-transfer dynamics in large plasmonic aluminum nanoparticles, which represent a thermally robust and earth-abundant alternative to noble metals that could be used for scalable solar-powered photocatalysis.

Susanna M. Thon is currently an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and a fellow of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI).  She received her Bachelor’s degree in Physics from MIT in 2005, and completed her PhD in Physics at the University of California Santa Barbara in 2010 in the area of quantum optics.  From 2011-2013 she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto working on colloidal quantum dot solar cells. Her research is in the field of nanomaterials engineering for optoelectronic devices, with a specific focus on renewable energy conversion and optical sensing. She is an NSF CAREER Award winner and the current Chair of the OSA Optics for Energy technical group.