The overall vision of our research work is the development of process for the mass production of nanowire powders and their integration in a simple, reliable and scalable manner into highly efficient energy conversion devices. Currently, our research work is primarily geared towards the fabrication of highly efficient thermoelectrics and solar cells that employ semiconductor nanowires as the primary component. More specifically, our primary vision is to design and develop novel process for mass producing nanowires with controlled diameters and morphologies that also routinely exhibit high resistance to against air- and moisture degradation. Here, the vision is to develop strategies for stabilizing nanowire surfaces without altering either their electrical or electronic properties in the process. The second part of our vision is to develop strategies for the large-scale assembly of nanowires for their direct use in electronic device fabrication. In short, our vision is to reduce the amount of post-processing necessary for converting nanowires into functional energy conversion devices. More specifically, we are interested in designing and developing strategies that lead to the assembly of nanowires either in randomly-oriented or aligned fashion, without altering their morphologies or dimensions in the process. Retention of the morphologies and dimensions within the nanowire assembly is expected to ensure that any novel properties observed in individual nanowires are extendable to assemblies composed of nanowires.
Some of the problems we plan to solve through these novel assembly strategies include the following: ensuring that the high electrical conductivity observed in a single nanowires is extendable to a highly porous assembly of nanowires, retaining the morphology during the assembly of nanowires into highly dense pellets and nsuring that there is a one-to-one correspondence between the electrical conductivity of the nanowires and the resulting highly dense nanowire assembly.
Overall, our vision is the production of energy conversion devices on a large-scale for wide-spread use of mankind in as easy, reliable, reproducible and inexpensive manner as the production of aspirin. If renewable energy devices were to be to be used for the generation of electricity, instead of fossil fuels, such large-scale production of energy conversion devices is essential.