00:00 AM

Dr. Paul Leu receives $296,593 NSF grant to study nanosphere coatings on silicon thin films

PITTSBURGH (August 29, 2012) … Paul W. Leu, assistant professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, has been awarded a $296,593 Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI) grant from the National Science Foundation to research into nanosphere coatings on silicon thin film photovoltaics.

According to the grant abstract, the CMMI grant grant provides funding for research enabling the development of numerical tools and nanomanufacturing processes for characterizing the structure-process-performance relationships of nanosphere coatings on silicon thin films. These coatings have the potential to not only enhance solar efficiencies without introducing additional surface recombination, but also reduce manufacturing processes and costs. The developed numerical tools will determine optimal structures for enhanced efficiencies while considering both ordered and disordered structures. Detailed simulations will be performed on optimal structures to determine the role of scattering and whispering gallery modes as well as to determine the angular performance of coated solar cells and evaluate transport characteristics. Scalable, inexpensive spin coating methods will be used to understand how nanosphere coatings may be assembled onto silicon thin film photovoltaics.

Manufactured samples will be characterized structurally, optically, and electronically to validate simulations.

The results of this research will lead to improvements in the design of next-generation solar cells. This could also have a profound impact on other nanophotonic applications that make use of whispering gallery modes such as optical filters and biosensors. A broad impact is envisioned in the areas of solar cells, topology optimization, and nanomanufacturing. This project will also educate and outreach to next-generation engineers through open source software development, the introduction of various education modules, and involvement with the Pitt Office of Diversity's INVESTING NOW summer program.

About Dr. Leu
Paul W. Leu joined the department in August 2010. He received his BS at Rice University in mechanical engineering and his master of science in mechanics of materials and PhD in mechanical engineering from Stanford University. He subsequently worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the U.C. Berkeley Electrical Engineering Department as a member of the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center and with a joint-appointment in the Materials Division Center of Lawrence Berkeley. Dr. Leu's primary research interests include first principle simulations of material properties, combining physical simulations with optimization methods, and nanomaterial synthesis and characterization. His areas of expertise include nano materials, semiconductor processing, computer aided design, multiscale modeling, and semiconductor devices.