The study of two-dimensional materials has greatly increased in the past few years as researchers find new ways to utilize their unique properties. In particular, semiconducting materials have many interesting applications especially in Nano-electronics such as photovoltaics, or solar cells. My project focused on utilizing a specific 2D semiconductor, black phosphorus, in the construction of a infrared solar cell that traps heat rather than visible light. What I chose to focus on in the beginning of my research experience was the semiconductor contacts that would sandwich the black phosphorus absorber. I spent the first few weeks reading many papers and researching what materials would be appropriate for my cell. When I began constructing my cell, I had to work in an airtight glove box. This was because black phosphorus tends to break down when exposed to oxygen; therefore, the glove box is filled solely with Argon.
This research applied the basic quantum mechanics I have learned thus far in a very interesting way. I was also exposed to new topics such as diodes and transistors which demonstrated how the knowledge I have gained in intro classes can be applied in industry. I also gained new knowledge from a variety of subjects such as optics, physics, and electrical engineering. Overall, this research experience taught me that research in any field of engineering will always be interdisciplinary. Not a single person in my lab had the same combination of degrees. I was forced to gain knowledge outside of my major which motivated me to believe that engineering is a very collaborative and interdisciplinary field.