Honorable Mention - Tejas Shastry

Graduate Student, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

“Solar Crystals”

A new type of solar cell using carbon nanotubes and silicon could greatly lower the cost of commercial solar panels. However, the carbon nanotubes must be “doped” with other compounds that donate charge and increase the conductivity of the nanotubes, such as gold chloride. Once doped, carbon nanotube-silicon solar cells exhibit efficiencies close to commercial panels at a fraction of the cost.

Shastry and his colleagues are testing various dopants to see which work the best. In this image, gold chloride is layered on carbon nanotubes layered on silicon to create a conductive film. The crystalline structure in the upper right-hand corner formed when the gold chloride didn’t set correctly and is not an ideal outcome.

Technique: Optical microscopy, no false coloring