Photo-ferroelectric materials for photovoltaics and photonics

PI: Rafael Jaramillo, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, MIT

Photovoltaic (PV) energy converstion is thought to be enhanced by ferroelectricity, but results have been slow due to a lack of materials that combine ferroelectricity at room temperature with absorption of solar light. We will experimentally test a recent theoretical prediction (by a colleague at MIT) of a new ferroelectric semiconductor with band gap in the near-infrared (NIR) and strong visible light absorption. We will make thin film samples and characterize their optical, electronic, and ferroelectric properties, with emphasis on predictors for PV performance. This work will be enabled by a newly-installed molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) system that is designed to enable experimental realizations of theoretically-predicted chalcogenide materials. If successful, this work will have widespread and immediate application in fields beyond PV, including integrated photonics and sensing. 

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