Richard Cheng, 2015, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

My internship with the Loo Group exposed me to research in the field of organic photovoltaics (OPV) and gave me insight into today’s solar technology. I worked with Luisa Whittaker, a postdoc, growing nanowires using different organic materials, which are supposedly cheaper than the inorganic materials used in the solar industry today. My goal was to characterize these nanowires and control their growth using a method called Physical Vapor Transport (PVT). Once I was able to control the nanowire growth, I incorporated them into an OPV device. Today’s OPVs typically combine an electron donor material and an electron acceptor material to create a device. I grew my nanowires as electron acceptors, and matched them with different electron donor materials to make different solar cell devices. While working on this project, I learned a lot about the properties and behavior of organic materials, as well as the prospects for the field of organic electronics. I hope to work further with photovoltaics through independent work, studying inorganic materials as well as organics.