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Title: Quantum Mechanical Simulations of Complex Nanostructures for Photovoltaic Applications

Abstract

A quantitative understanding of the electronic excitations in nanostructures, especially complex nanostructures, is crucial for making new-generation photovoltaic (PV) cells based on nanotechnology, which have high efficiency and low cost. Yet current quantum mechanical simulation methods are either computationally too expensive or not accurate and reliable enough, hindering the rational design of the nanoscale PV cells. The PI seeks to develop new methodologies to overcome the challenges in this very difficult and long-lasting problem, pushing the field forward so that electronic excitations can be accurately predicted for systems involving thousands of atoms. The primary objective of this project is to develop new approaches for electronic excitation calculations that are more accurate than traditional density functional theory (DFT) and are applicable to systems larger than what current beyond-DFT methods can treat. In this proposal, the PI will first address the excited-state problem within the DFT framework to obtain quasiparticle energies from both Kohn-Sham (KS) eigenvalues and orbitals; and the electron-hole binding energy will be computed based on screened Coulomb interaction of corresponding DFT orbitals. The accuracy of these approaches will be examined against many-body methods of GW/BSE and quantum Monte Carlo (QMC). The PI will also work on improving the accuracymore » and efficiency of the GW/BSE and QMC methods in electronic excitation computations by using better KS orbitals obtained from orbital-dependent DFT as inputs. Then an extended QMC database of ground- and excited-state properties will be developed, and this will be spot checked and supplemented with data from GW/BSE calculations. The investigation will subsequently focus on the development of an improved exchange-correlation (XC) density functional beyond the current generalized gradient approximation (GGA) level of parameterization, with parameters fitted to the QMC database. This will allow the ground-state properties of focus systems to be more precisely predicted using DFT. These new developments will then be applied to investigate a chosen set of complex nanostructures that have great potential for opening new routes in designing materials with improved transport, electronic, and optical properties for PV and other optoelectronic usages: (1) Hybrid interfaces between materials with distinct electronic and optical properties, such as organic molecules (conjugated polymers, e.g. P3HT) and inorganic semiconducting materials (Si and ZnO). Complicated interface structures, including interface bonding configurations, compositional and geometrical blending patterns, interfacial defects, and various sizes and shapes of inorganic nanomaterials, will be considered for the purpose of understanding the working mechanisms of present organic/nano PV systems and designing optimum interface structures for fast charge separation and injection. (2) Complex-structured semiconducting nanomaterials that could induce charge separation without pn- or hetero-junctions. The new methodology will allow the PI to investigate the performance of realistic semiconducting nanomaterials of internal (impurities, defects, etc.) and external (uneven surface, mechanical twisting and bending, surface chemistry, etc.) complexities on optical absorption and charge transport against charge trapping and recombination. Of particular interest is whether such structural complexity in a single material could even be beneficial for PV usage, for example, charge separation through morphology control. Successful completion of the proposed DFT methodology would have a far-reaching impact on our ability to study and exploit the nature of electronic excitations in complex materials, advancing the design of next-generation electronic and optoelectronic devices in all facets of renewable energy conversion and storage, including photovoltaics, thermoelectricity, photochemistry, etc.« less

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
OSTI Identifier:
1406114
Report Number(s):
Final Report: SE-SC0006433
DOE Contract Number:  
SC0006433
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY

Citation Formats

Wu, Zhigang. Quantum Mechanical Simulations of Complex Nanostructures for Photovoltaic Applications. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.2172/1406114.
Wu, Zhigang. Quantum Mechanical Simulations of Complex Nanostructures for Photovoltaic Applications. United States. doi:10.2172/1406114.
Wu, Zhigang. Wed . "Quantum Mechanical Simulations of Complex Nanostructures for Photovoltaic Applications". United States. doi:10.2172/1406114. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1406114.
@article{osti_1406114,
title = {Quantum Mechanical Simulations of Complex Nanostructures for Photovoltaic Applications},
author = {Wu, Zhigang},
abstractNote = {A quantitative understanding of the electronic excitations in nanostructures, especially complex nanostructures, is crucial for making new-generation photovoltaic (PV) cells based on nanotechnology, which have high efficiency and low cost. Yet current quantum mechanical simulation methods are either computationally too expensive or not accurate and reliable enough, hindering the rational design of the nanoscale PV cells. The PI seeks to develop new methodologies to overcome the challenges in this very difficult and long-lasting problem, pushing the field forward so that electronic excitations can be accurately predicted for systems involving thousands of atoms. The primary objective of this project is to develop new approaches for electronic excitation calculations that are more accurate than traditional density functional theory (DFT) and are applicable to systems larger than what current beyond-DFT methods can treat. In this proposal, the PI will first address the excited-state problem within the DFT framework to obtain quasiparticle energies from both Kohn-Sham (KS) eigenvalues and orbitals; and the electron-hole binding energy will be computed based on screened Coulomb interaction of corresponding DFT orbitals. The accuracy of these approaches will be examined against many-body methods of GW/BSE and quantum Monte Carlo (QMC). The PI will also work on improving the accuracy and efficiency of the GW/BSE and QMC methods in electronic excitation computations by using better KS orbitals obtained from orbital-dependent DFT as inputs. Then an extended QMC database of ground- and excited-state properties will be developed, and this will be spot checked and supplemented with data from GW/BSE calculations. The investigation will subsequently focus on the development of an improved exchange-correlation (XC) density functional beyond the current generalized gradient approximation (GGA) level of parameterization, with parameters fitted to the QMC database. This will allow the ground-state properties of focus systems to be more precisely predicted using DFT. These new developments will then be applied to investigate a chosen set of complex nanostructures that have great potential for opening new routes in designing materials with improved transport, electronic, and optical properties for PV and other optoelectronic usages: (1) Hybrid interfaces between materials with distinct electronic and optical properties, such as organic molecules (conjugated polymers, e.g. P3HT) and inorganic semiconducting materials (Si and ZnO). Complicated interface structures, including interface bonding configurations, compositional and geometrical blending patterns, interfacial defects, and various sizes and shapes of inorganic nanomaterials, will be considered for the purpose of understanding the working mechanisms of present organic/nano PV systems and designing optimum interface structures for fast charge separation and injection. (2) Complex-structured semiconducting nanomaterials that could induce charge separation without pn- or hetero-junctions. The new methodology will allow the PI to investigate the performance of realistic semiconducting nanomaterials of internal (impurities, defects, etc.) and external (uneven surface, mechanical twisting and bending, surface chemistry, etc.) complexities on optical absorption and charge transport against charge trapping and recombination. Of particular interest is whether such structural complexity in a single material could even be beneficial for PV usage, for example, charge separation through morphology control. Successful completion of the proposed DFT methodology would have a far-reaching impact on our ability to study and exploit the nature of electronic excitations in complex materials, advancing the design of next-generation electronic and optoelectronic devices in all facets of renewable energy conversion and storage, including photovoltaics, thermoelectricity, photochemistry, etc.},
doi = {10.2172/1406114},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {5}
}