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Dr. Jung-Kun Lee receives $290,724 grant from National Science Foundation for solar cell research

PITTSBURGH  (July 6, 2012) ... Jung-Kun Lee, PhD , assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the Swanson School of Engineering, has received a National Science Foundation grant for his research into solar cell energy conversion. The grant,  Solid State Dye Sensitized Solar Cells Using Tunable Surface Plasmons of Core-Shell Particles , is $290,724 over three years. 

According to the abstract:
In order to significantly improve the energy conversion efficiency of solar cells, a fundamental understanding is needed on how the light absorption mechanism, specifically related to solid dye sensitized solar cells (SDSSCs). One of a promising ways to control the light absorption is to exploit the resonance phenomenon, such as surface plasmons. The objectives of this research are 1) to develop a fundamental understanding the physical interactions among surface plasmons, solar light modulation, and carrier/exciton generation, and 2) to design the novel plasmonic particles (i.e. metal nanoshell) that enhance light absorption capacity of SDSSCs. The metal nanoshells will avoid inherent problems of the metal nanoparticles such as fixed plasmonic frequency, fabrication complexity, long-term aging and carrier transfer. Newly obtained knowledge on enhanced photon-electron conversion by metal nanoshells will enable us to exploit the full potential of plasmonic SDSSCs. The proposed research holds the potential to provide new directions for the hybrid solar cells by extending our current knowledge on the plasmonic nanostructures and the solar radiation harvesting. This work will generate knowledge on the plasmonic nanostructures and facilitate a new class of photovoltaic where the solar radiation absorption and the carrier generation are significantly improved.

It is expected that the development of the proposed research will contribute to furthering the goal of energy security of the US. Given that the electricity produced from solar energy is more than 1% of the total annual electricity consumed in the US, the expected results of this research will contribute to increasing energy conversion efficiency by exploring surface plasmon enhanced light absorption and carrier generation.

About Dr. Lee
Jung-Kun Lee's current research interests include energy and/or electro-optical applications of nano-structured materials. Specific emphasis is placed on 1.) photovoltaic application of wide band-gap nano-particles, 2.) material processing of electronic materials in forms of nano-particles, bulk ceramics/crystals, and thin films, 3.) optical and magnetic properties of nano-particles, and 4.) the surface modification using ion implantation and chemical methods. Before joining the University of Pittsburgh, he also carried out the research on domain/strain engineering of ferroic materials and composite design of biomaterials.

Jung-Kun Lee joined the University of Pittsburgh in September 2007 as an assistant professor after more than five years of service at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He received his PhD degree from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Seoul National University, Korea. His thesis was on superior electronic properties of domain engineered ferroelectronic thin films and crystals. Then, he won the highly competitive Director's Postdoctoral Fellowship of Los Alamos National Laboratory and joined Los Alamos in January, 2002. At Los Alamos, he was involved in several research projects on photovoltaics, nano-science, spintronics, and semiconductors. Due to his strong performance as a postdoctoral fellow, he was promoted to a technical staff member in January, 2005. His major research topics include sophisticated processing and characterization of nano-structured materials and electronic materials for photovoltaic and information technology. The scientific quality of his research is validated by more than 80 publications in refereed journals. He also holds 10 patents on the dielectric and optical applications of functional materials.


Contact: Paul Kovach