December 2, 2013
Assistant Professor Prashant Nagpal has received the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for his proposal, "Using 'Hot' Carriers for Photovoltaics and Photocatalysis." The award carries a five-year, $500,000 grant to support his proposed research, education and outreach activities.
NSF CAREER Award recognizes young faculty members with grants to supports outstanding research projects and career development activities, including education and outreach initiatives, of teacher-scholars. It is awarded to junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.
Nagpal's proposed research will focus on development of high efficiency, low-cost solution processable nanostructured photovoltaics and photocatalysts. While sunlight is composed of different colors of light and each color has different energy (blue has three times more energy than red!), photocells can convert only red light efficiently into electricity, losing the extra energy as heat. The project will aim towards providing breakthroughs in this area of utilizing the extra energy or “hot carriers” to improve photovoltaic and photodetection, with potential to have solar conversion efficiency beyond the 31% Shockley-Queisser efficiency limit. The proposed work is also expected to make advancements in creating photocatalysts, with tuned energy levels, to produce wavelength-selective or color tunable catalytic products, converting CO2-H2O to solar fuels such as alcohols, alkanes and aldehydes.