In the image above (taken with an electron microscope), polymer-based nanowire fibrils (the lanes or "highways”) are decorated with semiconducting inorganic particles. These structures are organized into alternating polymer and nanoparticle regions. Solar cells need “highways” of different materials with lanes that are well-connected to transport both positive and negative charges efficiently and generate power. UMass Amherst polymer scientists Todd Emrick, Ryan Hayward, and colleagues at the PHaSE Center (Polymer-Based Materials for Harvesting Solar Energy Center supported by the Department of Energy) are devising methods by which these materials can be directed to form structured superhighways, critical for more efficient harvesting of solar power. Learn more.
Photo credit: Felicia Bokel