In September 2013, The University of Tulsa, along with Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma submitted a grant to the Oklahoma NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The proposal was sent to NASA at the federal level, where it was approved and received $637,500 to research and develop the proposed project. Oklahoma State Regents matched that funding with $127,500.
Since the beginning of this project, students and faculty from the three universities studied, tested and fabricated both a nanostructured photovoltaic (PV) system and nanostructured batteries.
The students created solar cells, made of zinc and oxygen nanorods, or rods that offer direct electrical transport, and “decorated” the nanorods with gold particles. These solar cells harvest light and convert it into useful energy. Upon collection, students constructed bars and circuitry through which the energy could travel to the nanobatteries. These batteries are comprised of billions of individual battery cells, and they have the ability to be scaled to the desired size. These high-functioning nanostructured PVs and batteries will increase efficiency in NASA satellites and rovers while maintaining a low cost per watt.
Graduate students Yingdi Liu (physics) and Indumini Jayasekara and Echo Adcock Smith (both chemistry) were awarded Bellwether Fellowships by The University of Tulsa during the reporting period.