Externship Report: Wenhan He
The Externship Program is a research exchange program that allows New Mexico graduate students (with an existing assistantship) to spend a semester or summer doing research at a partnering New Mexico university or research facility. This report is from University of New Mexico student Wenhan He about his time as an extern at New Mexico State University.
In UNM, I mainly focused on synthesizing novel Pt-containing conjugated polymers and small molecules which will be applied later in the organic solar cell. With the help of the NM EPSCoR externship program I was fortunate enough to work with Dr. Hongmei Luo’s group at New Mexico State University whose expertise is the process of depositing and characterizing functional material layers on various substrate. Under her supervision, I am trying to explore the possibility to use different functional material layers to match my conjugated system to boost the solar cell efficiency.
During the summer 2016, I joined her group and was taught how to synthesize different metal-oxides, nitrides, and carbides as well as the deposition technique. After I completed the required trainings, I started to combine my own conjugated polymers and small molecules with different functional materials to fabricate the solar cell devices. With several optimizations, we found MoO3 is the best metal-oxides we can apply and the power conversion efficiency (PCE) is about 6-7% which is so far the highest PCE reported regarding to the Pt-containing system. At the meantime, Dr. Luo help me to run various characterizations, and the reason for high PCE turned out to be 1) the perfect alignment of the energy level of the metal-oxides and my conjugated systems which will reduce the energy loss 2) the nice morphology of the active layer 3) The better device fabrication techniques.
Overall this NM EPSCoR externship has been a valuable experience for me, not only I grabbed the synthesis skills but also I learned several techniques such as deposition, characterization and device fabrication. Furthermore, during the research in the summer, I enjoyed the teamwork and the ideas and suggestions Dr. Luo provide me. Therefore, the Externship Program is a wonderful opportunity to experience research in different fields.