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 â€œLEGOâ€ 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