The vision of the Center for Solar and Thermal Energy Conversion (CSTEC) is to design and to synthesize new materials for high efficiency photovoltaic (PV) and thermoelectric (TE) devices, predicated on new fundamental insights into equilibrium and non-equilibrium processes, including quantum phenomena, that occur in materials over various spatial and temporal scales.


Research in CSTEC falls in three collaborative thrusts, under a unifying concept: structure and transport at the nanoscale. The objective of the first thrust, CSTEC Thrust 1, is to exploit unique quantum effects at the nanoscale and to maximize the absorption of energy from sunlight and to minimize energy losses, associated with carrier transport, using nanostructured inorganic materials, including highly mismatched alloys (HMAs) and quantum dots, to achieve high efficiency solar energy conversion. The objective of Thrust 2 is to understand and to exploit fundamental mechanisms and processes associated with electron and hole transport, as well as electron-phonon coupling, in materials, with the goal of achieving high figures of merit in thermoelectric (inorganic, hybrid or molecular) materials. With regard to CSTEC Thrust 3, the objective is to understand the molecular and structural origins of energy conversion phenomena in organic and hybrid material systems with the goal of designing and synthesizing molecular systems to make materials, possessing controlled morphological structures, for efficient energy conversion.

Thermoelectric Projects Inorganic PV Projects Organic PV Projects TE and Organic PV Projects TE and Inorganic PV Projects Organic and Inorganic PV Projects Organic and Inorganic PV Projects

Research performed in the three thrusts, and synergistic interactions between the thrusts, has resulted in new science and new experimental methodologies, that enable the design and synthesis of new materials for TE, IPV and OPV. Research is now being conducted on a new generation of hybrid organic/inorganic materials for TE and PV devices, as well as new organic materials based TE systems. Additionally, research in thrust areas 1 and 2 has led to the development of inorganic materials that serve a dual purpose, for both TE and PV applications.

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