EMPA (European Master of Public Administration Consortium) is a network of European schools, that offer master programs in public administration.
In our research group, we study the interaction between optically active molecules and polymers and control their nanoscale arrangement. This is achieved by polymer synthesis (hydrogels, amphiphilic polymers, and nanocomposites) and their functionalization with chromophores and fluorophores. We target the design of smart materials for optical sensors, light-controlled drug delivery systems, and solar energy harvesting devices.
Project Background: One method to ameliorate the disadvantages of flexible solar cells (FSC) is the use of luminescent solar concentrators (LSC). Such materials absorb sunlight and convert it to the wavelength that is optimal for the SC, creating a geometric and spectral concentration of the light. In addition, LSC work under diffuse or artificial light or partial shading. Although rigid LSCs have been investigated for building-integrated SCs for 30 years, research into textile-based, flexible, and portable LSCs is at the beginning.
Our group has been developing fiber- or membrane-based LSCs that can be integrated with FSC. We employed amphiphilic polymer co-networks (APCNs). We incorporated hydrophilic and hydrophobic dyes in the corresponding domains and used the high interfacial area and close domain-domain distances to induce high energy transfer between dyes that are otherwise immiscible. FRET efficiencies of up to 60 % were observed, with a total energy transfer efficiency of about 99 %. The material was attached to wearable solar cells, helping to increase the power conversion efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells by up to 84 %.
Project description: In this project, we will continue the research described above. It will contain both a scientific and an applied research component. We want to further investigate the energy transfer among fluorophores in APCNs, including the use of quantum dots and perovskites. We will study the effect of APCN formulation and morphology on its mechanical, adhesive, and optical properties, and how it steers the energy transfer. The project will also be dedicated to investigating demonstrators of wearable LSCs, by integrating the best-developed materials with flexible solar cells.
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