SAERI Funded Projects

2017/18 Cycle

Photovoltaics and Thermoelectric Power Conversion (TE)

  • Solar-pumped nanoscale quantum amplifier(Gershon Kurizki)

    Our goal is to design conceptually novel quantum nanometer-size amplifiers that may convert solar energy into useful work performed by photons or electrons with ultra-high efficiency. For photons this efficiency may approach 100%, above the conventional Carnot bound, because a quantum amplifier may achieve much better control of the conversion. Such designs may strongly boost the use of solar energy for diverse nanoscale applications because their predicted efficiency will make them highly attractive.


  • Selective attachment of charge-extracting materials to perovskite layers: direct chemical bonding leading to strong and controllable electronic coupling in perovskite-based solar cells (Boris Rybtchinski, Gary Hodes)

    Perovskite solar cells show spectacular efficiencies (above 20%), low cost, and are prone to simple fabrication. However, the rational design of the interfaces between their most important components has not been achieved, hampering advancement of the field. Herein, we suggest a new strategy based on direct binding the active components of the perovskite solar cells, so that their interfacing and electronic properties can be controlled and enhanced resulting in a novel rational strategy that can ultimately result in improved solar cell performance and new types of perovskite solar cells.

  • Dynamic disorder as a key to stability in lead-halide perovskites?(Leeor Kronik)

    Successful photovoltaic technology must combine high performance with low cost. Recently, hybrid organic-inorganic hybrid pervoskites (HOIPs), and especially methylammonium-leadiodide (MAPbI3), have drawn enormous attention because they combine the outstanding semiconducting properties of inorganic semiconductors with the generally lower costs of organic crystals. However, a major enigma is how a material synthesized using inexpensive techniques is even capable of achieving the high photovoltaic conversion efficiency that it does. Recently, it has become increasingly clear that HOIPs exhibit significant dynamic disorder, i.e., at least some of the atoms in the material exhibit major shifts from the equilibrium positions, even at room temperature and under standard operating conditions. Here, we wish to examine whether this “messy” and seemingly detrimental property is actually one of the keys to the success of this material. We propose to do so using first-principles calculations, based on the atomic species involved and the laws of quantum mechanics. In such calculations, static and dynamic structural and chemical motifs can be created in a controlled manner and their properties examined systematically. This should afford a detailed understanding of mechanisms allowing (and limiting) cell performance and stability and therefore allow us to point out strategies for making further progress.


  • Duckweeds as a Platform for Biofuel and Sustainability(Avraham Levy and Asaph Aharoni)

    Duckweeds are tiny aquatic plants floating on still water that display rapid biomass proliferation.

    We propose to redesign its cell wall and its primary metabolism to turn it into an improved platform for bioethanol production and sustainability. This will be done combining expertise in transformation protocols (Edelman); genome editing methods (Levy); analytical chemistry and metabolism (Aharoni) and using the recently published duckweed’s full genome. Duckweed is highly effective in uptake of chemicals and heavy metals from water, enabling its use for waste water decontamination. These features make it a powerful system for sustainability.

Thermoelectric Power Conversion (TE)

  • Thermoelectric Power Conversion (TE)Atomic and molecular thermoelectricity: the role of vibrations and noise in heat pumping and heat to electric power conversion(Oren Tal)

    Heat pumping and heat to electric power conversion are fascinating schemes for sustainable energy. Specifically, nanoscale conductors are attractive systems for such thermoelectric manipulations, due to their unique properties. However, it is not trivial to measure temperature at the nanoscale or control the parameters that promote thermoelectricity. We intend to develop noble tools for probing local temperature across metal-molecule-metal interfaces and demonstrate heat-pumping and efficient thermoelectricity in molecular-based structures. We aim to establish guidelines for efficient heat to electric power conversion. As the US manufacturing sector alone generates ~3000 TW/year of waste heat, the potential of thermoelectric conversion is huge.