– Galactic Contamination –
Department – Chemistry and Biochemistry (Graduate Student) –
Research Field – Molecular Photophysics –
How image was captured – DSLR –
Research Impact & Significance – My research goals are focused on sustainable energy and, in particular, strategies for making more efficient DSSCs. Most commercially available DSSCs are limited to a maximum theoretical efficiency of ~33% because they are unable to absorb and convert large portions of sunlight (i.e. low energy photons) into electricity. My research is on the application of photon upconversion (TTA-UC)—combining two or more low energy photons to generate a higher energy photon—to harness this previously transmitted light and increase solar cell efficiencies to above 43%. In this photo one crucial piece of equipment we use in order to determine the quantum yield of a dye or device is depicted. An integrating sphere is used to calculate a quantum yield by measuring the difference between photons that are absorbed by the dye and those that are emitted. However, one thing that limits the efficiency of this measurement are contaminants that are introduced into the sphere over time. Whether that be by dust, powder samples being disrupted by static electricity, spilled samples, or contaminants on cuvettes the emission from these can be detected (depicted in this photo) introducing uncertainty into the measurement. While some contamination is unavoidable, knowing it is there allows us to correct for it.