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Spring 2013 - Synthesis of Nanstructured Materials

The physical properties and performance of materials depends on their structure as much as their composition. For example, a relatively minor change in interface chemistry improves the power efficiency of a prototype PbS quantum dot-based solar cell by an order of magnitude.

Despite this premise and the remarkable advances in materials processing and chemistry, we still cannot design and manufacture materials with a monodisperse and controllable micro- and nano-structure in a way that is scalable, versatile, inexpensive and practical.

Interns will work on developing a radically different approach to the synthesis of nanostructured materials. We design materials for energy applications (e.g., wear resistance, light harvesting) from nanoscale building blocks, which we self-assemble and consolidate to form an extended solid. In essence, the interns will learn to use nanoscale “LEGO” to create solid state materials that solve problems in energy applications or answer fundamental questions in materials science.

Program mentor: Ludovico Cademartiri, assistant professor, Materials Science and Engineering, Iowa State University

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