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Researcher receives Young Investigator Award for photovoltaic nanomaterials

Mon, 08/04/2014

LAWRENCE — A researcher at the University of Kansas has earned an Army Research Office Young Investigator Award grant to conduct research on cutting-edge photovoltaic technology intended to give American forces tactical advantages in the field.

"My YIP Award primarily focuses on the material design and assembly to reach highly efficient photovoltaic nanodevice systems," said Shenqiang Ren, assistant professor of chemistry. "In addition, our discovery of multifunctional photovoltaic nanomaterials will enable us to build an integrated photovoltaic and sensing system, which has dual functionalities."

Ren's work focuses on materials chemistry, synthesis and self-assembly of low-dimensional nanomaterials. For the Army, the researcher said he would be investigating "flexible, durable and highly efficient nanosystems that could be manufactured at low cost for handheld and wearable nano-PV-sensing circuits to large arrays for Department of Defense applications."

Ren said his work could lead to improvements in a variety of devices used by the military by employing "self-assembled nanophotovoltaics" built upon less than a 100-nanometer-thickness photoactive layer.

As reference, a sheet of paper is roughly 100,000 nanometers thick.

"The less material usage but high efficiency could have multiple advantages, such as portability and flexibility, as well as environmental compatible processing," he said.

The three-year, $210,100 grant enables Ren and his team at KU to pursue work that lines up with “current Army interests” such as development of nanomaterials with exotic properties, which could enable applications like self-powered sensing nanodevices that don’t require batteries.

According to the Army Research Office, its mission is "to serve as the Army's premier extramural basic research agency in the engineering, physical, information and life sciences, developing and exploiting innovative advances to ensure the nation's technological superiority."

Ren said his lab would use a "bottom-up" approach tailored to the requirements of American forces.

"This is in comparison to the current 'top-down' method," he said. "We’ll start with the material design based on performance needs and build up the energy nanosystems by assembling the nanobuilding blocks, such as nanomaterials we synthesized in my lab."



Matt Menzenski, a graduate student in Slavic languages & literatures, took this photo during President Obama’s speech at KU Thursday. Menzenski says he was struck by how relaxed the president was in his delivery. He missed a chance to hear former President Bill Clinton speak in his hometown in 2004, but finally got to see a sitting president this week at KU. “The opportunity to hear the president speak is just one of many great opportunities I've had at KU. So many interesting talks and events happen here all the time. I try to attend at least one a week-- it's never hard to find something interesting to go to.” Tags: University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts and Sciences KU School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures KU Dept of Slavic Languages - Friends & Alumni Barack Obama The White House #exploreKU #POTUSatKU

#KUfacts : There are 30+ tenant companies in the Bioscience & Technology Business Center at KU. http://t.co/PqeeY5r16W #growKS
Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See http://bit.ly/1xjjwJj). For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See http://bit.ly/1BoL9jv) The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (http://bit.ly/14fiBPl), associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.


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