Fellows' Presentation

Innovative Polymers for Printable Photocells: Multiscale Theory for Materials Design

Photo by Tony RinaldoPhoto by Tony Rinaldo

Part of the 2015–2016 Fellows' Presentation Series

Lecture by Scott Milner RI '16

At Radcliffe, Scott Milner is researching ways to harvest sunlight with novel polymer photocells. Innovative new polymer materials aim to combine the light-harvesting ability of ultrapure silicon with the processing ease of polymers, enabling “printable” solar panels. These polymers function like chlorophyll in plants, but instead of converting light into sugars, the light produces positive and negative charges. Theory is critically needed to understand how the materials work: their hybrid nature—microscopically structured like polymers, absorbing light like molecules, and ferrying charges like semiconductors—requires a novel combination of ideas from materials science, quantum chemistry, and solid-state physics.