282303 Advanced Photon Management for Solar Energy Conversion and Photocatalysis

Sunday, October 28, 2012
Hall B (Convention Center )
Kevin M. McPeak, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

The late Nobel Laureate, Richard Smalley, declared “Energy is the single most important challenge facing humanity today.” The use of large scale, renewable energy sources is necessary to meet the demands of both population growth and CO2 reduction in the 21st century.  Solar energy is the only clean, renewable energy source available that is capable of supplying the 13 terawatts that are necessary to power the planet. I will develop a research program which focuses on harnessing this abundant resource for energy conversion and photocatalytic devices.  The utilization of advanced photon management techniques to enhance the performance of these devices will be a primary focus of my group. 

During my PhD I studied the chemical bath deposition of nanomaterials for low cost photovoltaic devices. I developed a combinatorial approach for depositing oxide and chalcogenide nanomaterials which enabled rapid and unprecedented understanding of the effect of growth conditions on optical, electronic, and structural properties of the material. Furthermore, I pioneered the use of in situ x-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy to better understand the fundamentals of chemical bath deposition.

Throughout my postdoctoral work at ETH Zurich I have developed novel, low cost techniques to fabricate large-area, complex, two dimensional metal grating structures for back reflectors in solar cell devices. I have used both finite element modeling and experimental results to verify the efficacy of these grating structures on improving solar cell efficiency.

As a faculty member, I will combine my bottom-up material synthesis, in situ characterization, and top-down fabrication experience to establish a leading program to enhance solar-to-fuel energy conversion and the photodisinfection of water. These application areas are fundamental to energy sustainability and public health in the world.

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