Modified Semiconductor Nanoparticles for Harvesting Solar Radiation and Promising Liquid Crystal Polymers for Energy Storage
In the search for high efficiency solar cell models and energy storage, dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) show promise for harvesting the sun radiation, while light-responsive materials capable of undergoing photo-induced molecular transformation are excellent candidates for energy storage. In DSSCs, electrical energy is generated as the electron is conducted by metal oxide nanoparticles to an electrode (anode) and then transferred to a counter electrode (cathode). The novelty of the DSSCs is the extremely large surface area of the semiconductor nanoparticles provided for the dye molecules that absorb light and generate the electrons. In this talk, I will discuss efforts made in our labs toward improving the current systems for harvesting solar radiation and for more stable and efficient energy storage. I will show our results of modified semiconductors with metal nanoparticles in order to broaden the absorption overlap with sunlight, and maximize absorption in the red and near-infrared region. The latter constitutes more than 50% of the sun radiation and energy harvesting in this region will maximize the energy-electrical conversion efficiency. This stage was complemented by newly synthesized and spectroscopically characterized organic dyes for potential use as solar concentrators. Finally, we prepared promising liquid crystalline polymers that are capable of trapping the absorbed photon energy upon light exposure through trans → cis isomerization and molecular aggregation, leading to well-controlled molecular energy storage systems.
Prof. Abou-Zied obtained his Ph.D. from University of Saskatchewan, Canada in 1995. He then worked as a researcher in different institutes in the United States, including California Institute of Technology, University of Illinios (Urbana-Champaign), and The Scripps Research Institute. In 2003, he joined Sultan Qaboos University, Oman where he is now a Professor of Physical Chemistry. Prof. Abou-Zied and his group investigate the steady-state and ultrafast spectroscopy of novel compounds for solar energy applications and for energy storage.