This interdisciplinary project will incorporate the disciplines of Engineering, Chemistry, and Physics. However, the project is specifically housed within the Hope College Department of Engineering. Interested students must reach out to Dr. Christians in person or via email prior to applying.
I am excited by the challenges in energy. The paradox of energy is that it is necessary for modern life and improves life while simultaneously being the root cause of many of our most complex and troublesome global issues. Through my research, I hope to help the broader scientific community in one small corner of this multifaceted problem by designing, understanding, and improving materials for energy applications such as electricity generation and lighting.
Semiconductors, such as the silicon in solar cells and computer chips, the gallium nitride in LEDs, and the zinc oxide in sunscreen, are all around us and the key components of many technologies, especially in the realm of alternative energy technologies. Halide perovskites are a class of semiconductors which have the general chemical formula ABX3 and widely tunable properties. A major advantage over traditional semiconductors, such as silicon, is that halide perovskites can be solution-processed, meaning that they can be printed or coated from "inks".
This project will focus on manipulating the properties of halide perovskites to improve their properties; design will be applications include light emitting diodes (LEDs) solar cells, including work on dynamically switchable thermochromic solar cells, akin to thermochromic eye glasses but which can produce electricity, which could be used as windows.
Students who are new to the project will begin work (approximately 2-3 hrs per week) during the Spring semester. This will include learning some of the basics of their project as well as getting initial training on some of the laboratory techniques that they will use in their research. Full time summer research will last a total of 10 weeks and is expected to begin on 5/11/20 and run until 7/24/20 (the week of 6/15-6/19 will be vacation). Students working on this project will gain experience with in materials synthesis and an array of materials characterization techniques to understand material properties. Through this work, students will help to explore mechanistic aspects related to changes in material properties to enable a better understanding of material design. This work will require students to participate in all aspects of the research process including, the development of synthesis and characterization protocols, review of scientific literature, data acquisition, data modeling and analysis, construction of experimental equipment, and research presentations.