Interdisciplinary blog

MDR Vacation Bursary Project: Graphene Oxide – Gold Nanoparticle Assemblies for Use in Plasmonic Solar Cells

July 24, 2013
by Liam Kiessling

By Liam Kiessling, undergraduate student (Physics (MPhys)), Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering.

As a third year physicist, learning to work in a chemistry lab and all the techniques involved in this environment is a challenge but an enjoyable one. What I find most appealing about research into nanotechnology is the ability to take new materials from concepts, to synthesis and eventually into applications for these new materials. Most things in this area are thought up by a physicist, made by a chemist and used by a biologist or doctor. When given the opportunity to work in such a hot area of research, I had to take it.

Liam Kiessling University of SouthamptonI will be working with a graphene derivative, graphene oxide, as the base for nanoscale assemblies of DNA and gold nanoparticles. Once we have confirmed that we have created these structures, with UV-Vis spectroscopy and TEM imaging, we will send samples off to get them blended into a solar cell, with the hope that the combination of all three things will increase the energy conversion efficiency over a cell without these structures. If successful, we could see these solar cells in use in mobile phones and other portable electronics so that they would require little or no charging from mains power sources; easing our dependence on fossil fuels for electricity generation.


I will be continuing this project into my master’s year where I will be looking to make ever more complex structures. Future structures could include: sandwiches of graphene with nanospheres between; paired nanospheres attached to the graphene; exchanging the nanospheres for other shapes (nanorods, nanostars, etc.); and possibly exchanging the gold for other materials (platinum, copper selenide, iron oxide, etc.). We will be running multiple tests on these structures as well to see if there are other potential applications for these which may include: biosensors, batteries, capacitors or display devices.


Supervisor: Dr. Antonios Kanaras.


MDR Vacation Bursary blog series available at:


Categories: Blog. Tags: Graphene Oxide, nanoscience, solar cells, Tags: Liam Kiessling, and vacation bursary. Project names: Graphene Oxide – Gold Nanoparticle Assemblies for Use in Plasmonic Solar Cells.