Scott P Ahrenkiel (2006)


B.S., University of Colorado
M.S., Colorado School of Mines
Ph.D., University of Colorado

(605) 394-5238
EP 221 / Nano (campus map)
Research Expertise
Nanomaterials have a range of unusual and useful properties, offering avenues to address many outstanding technological challenges, including affordable conversion and storage of renewable energy. The primary research emphasis in my lab is on the synthesis and understanding of nanostructured materials for renewable energy. Our central research theme is the incorporation of dissimilar materials, particularly "lattice-mismatched" semiconductors, into single-crystal thin films for solar cells. Materials of this type are used in the highest-efficiency solar cells available today. We aim to incorporate "quantum-dot" semiconductor nanostructures in these materials, designed to enable even higher efficiencies. We are developing large-area, low-cost, flexible solar cells, and alternative materials combinations and crystal growth modes that will reduce the fabrication costs. To analyze these materials, we use transmission electron microscopy, including high-resolution imaging and diffraction.
Brief Bio
Prior to joining SDSMT in 2006, I was a researcher at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), beginning in 1991 as a graduate student, and later as Senior Scientist I. My work at NREL involved a range of photovoltaic materials, including compound semiconductor nanomaterials and epitaxial films, thin-film silicon and germanium, and various conducting oxides. Among the projects to which I contributed were alloy ordering and phase separation, crystallization kinetics of amorphous films, and microstructures of polyphase films. I received my B.S. in Engineering Physics from CU, Boulder, my M.S. in Physics from Colorado School of Mines, and my Ph.D. in Physics from CU, Boulder. I currently manage the TEM facility at SDSMT, which is shared by a broad base of faculty, student, and industry clients.
I teach several graduate courses on the properties and applications of nanomaterials. The course “Instrumentation and Characterization of Nanomaterials” provides theoretical background and hands-on training for several prominent nanocharacterization instruments on campus. “Structure and Crystallography of Nanomaterials” links the identification and classification of crystal types to the various experimental methods of determining nanomaterials structures. ”Nanomaterials for Photovoltaics” builds on the concepts of conventional solar cells to describe next-generation approaches that make use of nanomaterials. In “Nanoelectronics”, we develop descriptions of nanoscale electronic devices, which require different methods of analysis than conventional circuit elements. My teaching methods aim to reinforce problem-solving skills, rather than proofs or derivations.
Course Listing