Electrochemically gated nanoparticle film field effect transistor: fundamental charge transport studies (part 1) and energy storage applications (part 2)

    There have been tremendous advances over the past few decades relating to the synthesis and characterization of nanostructures.  People have fabricated various types of nano-scale particles, rods, tubes, shells, core-shells, etc and ofcourse synthesis of nano-scale molecules has been a goal of organic and inorganic chemistry for a long time. Advances in synthesis and studies of nano-structures offer another exciting possibility:  viewing nano-structures as “artificial atoms” or “building blocks” of matter and a possibility of making “nano-engineered” materials; i.e. nano-structured materials with properties engineered from the bottom-up.  Exploring nano-engineered materials (and in particular their electronic properties) has been a focus of our group.  We have found that they, indeed, are a fertile ground for new science and point to exciting new applications.  A new material such as ours with controllable properties could serve as a controlled test bed and shed new light on the many unanswered questions that remain in these areas.

    The first part of this project is described below.  The second is described in an accompanying application.  The first part of this project is to build on the above-mentioned results and to explore fundamental science and perhaps, if time permits, applications of these materials.  Specifically, the student will fashion nanoparticle films, each with two contact electrodes that will enable studies of charge transport through the films. Next, the student will incorporate these films into an electro-chemical cell equipped with a third electrode and will study transport as a function of voltage applied to this third electrode.  Application of a voltage to the third electrode will result in the formation of a nano-sized charge double layer next to the film and will subject the film to extraordinarily strong electric field.  In view of our field-effect transistor study mentioned above, the field should gate the film’s conductance.

    Another aspect of this project has applications to energy storage because this device is essentially a so-called “super-capacitor”. Super-capacitors hold much promise for energy applications where batteries and traditional capacitors are inadequate.  Batteries can provide high energies but low power because they charge and discharge slowly.  Traditional capacitors provide low energies, because the area of their electrodes is small, but high power because they charge and discharge quickly.  There are applications (e.g. acceleration in cars, buses, etc) where both high energies and high powers are required. 

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr. Al-Amin Dhirani


Rik Dey







University of Toronto


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