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Ted Sargent, Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Research area:

Solar energy

Specialty focus areas:

Solar Energy, Alternative Fuels


Colloidal quantum dots (CQDs) are nanometre-scale semiconductor particles synthesized in and processed from solution. This allows the use of CQD inks to be painted onto flexible substrates for rapid, low-cost fabrication of solar cells. Additionally, CQDs exhibit quantum size effect tunability. This allows the absorption range of CQD films to be tuned, based simply on nanocrystal size, across the entire solar spectrum. Since half of the available solar energy lies in the infrared range, CQDs are able to access photons unusable by other photovoltaic materials. Our group reported the first infrared-sensitive CQD solar cell in 2005, and has been a leader in the field since then.Our interdisciplinary research on CQD solar cells spans theoretical modeling, materials design, and device engineering. Through these, we aim to advance the efficiency of low-cost CQD solar cells and have certified the first CQD cell with efficiency over 10%. Our continuing research includes investigating the role of surface ligands on CQD surfaces in determining electrical properties and device stability. We are also developing methods to make coating solar cells faster and cheaper, including by spraying CQDs on flexible substrates. By exploiting the infrared sensitivity of CQDs, we are exploring methods of augmenting other photovoltaic materials by absorbing otherwise wasted long-wavelength light.-----------------------------Renewable Fuels:Our group is actively researching the efficient conversion of carbon dioxide into fuels and high value feedstocks. Carbon capture and storage is one of the most promising strategies for the short term mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.We have developed nanostructured, robust, efficient metal catalysts that turn carbon dioxide into fuels and important precursors for industrial processes. We are leveraging interdisciplinary expertise in surface nanostructuring, computational modelling, and electrochemical synthesis to discover materials that can turn CO2 selectively into a programmable range of hydrocarbon products.

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