Perpectives for new organic materials for solar cells
Alán Aspuru-Guzik, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University
Green-sulfur bacteria is a remarkable organism that can carry out photosynthesis in low-light conditions such as those present in the bottom of the ocean or moonlight. In this talk, geared for a general scientific audience, I will describe my group's efforts to understand how this organism harvests sunlight so efficiently. I will proceed to describe the possible implications of these light-harvesting
mechanisms for enhancing energy transport in organic materials. I will end by briefly discussing our screening efforts for materials for organic solar cells using computer time from distributed donors around the world.
Professor Alán Aspuru-Guzik is currently Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, where he started his independent career in 2006. Alán received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 1999. He received the Gabino Barreda Medal from UNAM, which prizes the top achiever in each field of study. After receiving his PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004, under Professor William A. Lester, Jr., he was a postdoctoral scholar in the group of Martin Head-Gordon at UC Berkeley from 2005-2006.
Professor Aspuru-Guzik carries out research at the interface of quantum information and chemistry. In particular, he is interested in the use of quantum computers and dedicated quantum simulators for chemical systems. He has studied the role of quantum coherence in excitonic energy transfer in photosynthetic complexes, and developed methodology for studying the spectroscopy of molecules in nanoscale environments. He and his group recently developed a density functional theory for open quantum systems. He leads the Clean Energy Project: a distributed computing effort for screening renewable energy materials.
In 2009, Professor Aspuru-Guzik recently received the DARPA Young Faculty Award, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award and the Sloan Research Fellowship. In 2010, he received the Everett-Mendelsson Graduate Mentoring Award and received the HP Outstanding Junior Faculty award by the Computers in Chemistry division of the American Chemical Society. In the same year, he was selected as a Top Innovator Under 35 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Technology Review magazine.