Summer Undergraduate Research Mentored Experience

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Dr. Luis Echegoyen

Department of Chemistry

Novel carbon compounds (fullerenes) for efficient solar cells and as Anti-HIV and Anti-Cancer agents

Preferred major field of study or minimum required skills

  • No restriction, but prefer chemistry background, or physics and engineering.
  • Previous research experience in organic or physical chemistry desirable.

Scholarly significance/intellectual merit

Novel carbon-based compounds are designed, synthesized and characterized to be used as acceptors in OPV devices. Many of these are totally new fullerene cages and derivatives, including endohedral compounds containing encapsulated clusters inside carbon cages. Aspects of interest include the preparation of totally unprecedented Uranium endohedrals exhibiting unique U-U bonding and electronic properties. Some of the compounds are evaluated in Bulk Heterojunction (BHJ) solar cells and as electron extracting layers in perovskite solar cells, to increase the photoconversion efficiencies. Unique regiochemical reactions are designed in order to prepare well-defined and unprecedented compounds for improved solar cells. Several new compounds are designed to inhibit different stages of HIV infectivity, mainly the virus' protease. These studies are done in-vivo. Structure-function correlations based on the multiple compounds being prepared and studied are used in conjunction with theoretical calculations in order to elucidate the anti-viral mechanisms at the molecular level.

Research question(s)

  1. Can novel fullerenes and derivatives act as efficient electron acceptors in BHJ solar cells?
  2. Can they act as selective and efficient electron extracting layers in thin-layer perovskite solar cells?
  3. Can new Triphenylamine-based compounds extract "holes" (positive charges) from perovskite cells?
  4. Can appropriately designed fullerenes show selective anti-HIV and anti-cancer properties?

Methods/techniques/instruments to be learned/utilized

Arc reactor technology; automated extractions; HPLC, (specialized columns and recycling systems); Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Mass Spectrometry (MALDI MS); electrochemistry (several techniques, like cyclic and square voltammetry); Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR); device frabrication; solar simulator; Raman spectroscopy; FT-IR Spectroscopy; Profilometry; TGA; others.