Hybrid Thin Film Deposition by Matrix-Assisted Pulsed Laser Evaporation
Future applications, such as wearable electronics, flexible and transparent displays, or devices for solar energy conversion and storage require materials with more versatility, more integrated functions, and more environmentally responsible processing compared to traditional options (i.e., inorganic semiconductors, like silicon). Organic semiconductors, such as small molecules and polymers, are well-suited to these future requirements; however, their electrical properties and environmental stability are inherently worse. Hybrid materials, such as inorganic nanoparticles embedded within a polymer film, can mitigate the trade-offs that exist for any single material type by combining organic and inorganic semiconductors. For example, hybrid materials can impart multi-functionality, flexibility, transparency, and sustainability to devices based on the interaction of light and matter (i.e., optoelectronic devices) or energy-related devices (e.g., solar cells, supercapacitors, or photo-electrochemical cells). A critically important requirement to realize the promise of hybrid materials for devices is to understand and control thin film deposition. Because hybrid materials are heterogeneous systems containing more than one component, thin-film deposition can be complicated compared to single component films. As a result, the co-deposition of two or more materials with different properties to synthesize a hybrid film with pre-determined functionality is a technological challenge within thin-film engineering, an area that resides at the nexus of materials science, physics, and electrical engineering. I will describe my research program that investigates hybrid thin film deposition using matrix-assisted pulsed laser evaporation (MAPLE) to control structure and properties and to improve the performance of optoelectronic and energy-related devices.