Project Info

Silicon Clathrates for Photovoltaic Applications

Carolyn Koh
Reuben Collins

Project Goals and Description:

Silicon clathrates are crystalline solids comprised of a three-dimensional network of silicon open cages. Their unique structure and properties could lead to the next generation photovoltaic solar cells.  Key to realizing the potential of these novel materials is the production of high-quality thin films comprising ~empty silicon cages. The goal of this project is to study the structure and properties of silicon clathrate thin films using a combination of molecular spectroscopy tools.
The team will meet weekly (physics, chem. eng.) to discuss the research updates with the MURF student, along with other graduate research students and faculty. The MURF student will also interact with the other grad students several times a week.

More Information:

Grand Challenge: Make solar energy economical.
"Inorganic and Methane Clathrates: Versatility of Guest-host Compounds for Energy Harvesting", Krishna, L., Koh, C. A. MRS Energy Sust. 2015, 2, E8 “Synthesis and Characterization of Type II Silicon Clathrate Films with Low Na Concentration,”  Liu, L., Schenken, W.K., Krishna, L., Majid, A.A., Furtak, T.E., Walker, M., Koh, C.A., Taylor, P.C., Collins, R.T.,  Applied Physics Reviews (2021). Isolated alternative crystalline silicon phase could lead to improved solar cell performance: Scilight: Vol 2021, No 45 (

Primary Contacts:

Carolyn Koh, | Reuben Collins,

Student Preparation


Thermodynamics core course.




*Fundamentals of silicon materials for photovoltaic applications. *Si clathrate structure analysis using Raman spectroscopy and Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) spectroscopy.


Weekly meetings with the faculty advisors and ~daily interactions with the grad. research student co-mentors.

Preferred Student Status

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