Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Electrical and Computer Engineering (Engineering)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Sung Jin Kim

Second Committee Member

Michael Wang

Third Committee Member

Onur Tigli

Fourth Committee Member

Fulin Zuo

Fifth Committee Member

Marc Knecht


As the global concern for the financial and environmental costs of traditional energy resources increases, research on renewable energy, most notably solar energy, has taken center stage. Many alternative photovoltaic (PV) technologies for ‘the next generation solar cell’ have been extensively studied to overcome the Shockley-Queisser 31% efficiency limit as well as tackle the efficiency vs. cost issues. This dissertation focuses on the novel photovoltaic mechanism for the next generation solar cells using two inorganic nanomaterials, nanocrystal quantum dots and ferroelectric nanoparticles. Lead zirconate titanate (PZT) materials are widely studied and easy to synthesize using solution based chemistry. One of the fascinating properties of the PZT material is a Bulk Photovoltaic effect (BPVE). This property has been spotlighted because it can produce very high open circuit voltage regardless of the electrical bandgap of the materials. However, the poor optical absorption of the PZT materials and the required high temperature to form the ferroelectric crystalline structure have been obstacles to fabricate efficient photovoltaic devices. Colloidal quantum dots also have fascinating optical and electrical properties such as tailored absorption spectrum, capability of the bandgap engineering due to the wide range of material selection and quantum confinement, and very efficient carrier dynamics called multiple exciton generations. In order to utilize these properties, many researchers have put numerous efforts in colloidal quantum dot photovoltaic research and there has been remarkable progress in the past decade. However, several drawbacks are still remaining to achieve highly efficient photovoltaic device. Traps created on the large surface area, low carrier mobility, and lower open circuit voltage while increasing the absorption of the solar spectrum is main issues of the nanocrystal based photovoltaic effect. To address these issues and to take the advantages of the two materials, this dissertation focused on material synthesis for low cost solution process for both materials, fabrication of various device structures and electrical/optical characterization to understand the underlying physics. We successfully demonstrated lead sulfide quantum dots (PbS QDs) and lead zirconate titanate nanoparticles (PZT NPs) in an aqueous solution and fabricated a photosensitive device. Solution based low-temperature process was used to fabricate a PbS QD and a PZT NP device. We exhibited a superior photoresponse and ferroelectric photovoltaic properties with the novel PZT NP device and studied the physics on domain wall effect and internal polarity effect. PZT NP was mainly investigated because PZT NP device is the first report as a photosensitive device with a successful property demonstration, as we know of. PZT’s crystalline structure and the size of the nanocrystals were studied using X-ray diffraction and TEM (Transmission electron microscopy) respectively. We observed < 100 nm of PZT NPs and this result matched with DLS (dynamic light scattering) measurement. We fabricated ferroelectric devices using the PZT NPs for the various optical and electrical characterizations and verified ferroelectric properties including ferroelectric hysteresis loop. We also observed a typical ferroelectric photovoltaic effect from a PZT NP based device which was fabricated on an ITO substrate. We synthesized colloidal quantum dots (CQD) with the inexpensive soluble process. Fabricated PbS QD was used for the hybrid device with PZT thin films. J-V measured and the result shows superior open circuit voltage characteristics compared to conventional PbS QD PV devices, and resulting the improvement of the solar cell efficiency. This Ferroelectrics and Quantum Dots (FE-QDs) device also the first trial and the success as we know of.


Quantum Dots, ferroelectrics, thin film, solar cell, photovoltaics, nanoparticles, sol-gel, colloidal method