Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Kristin Wustholz

Committee Members

John C. Poutsma

Kurt E. Williamson


The majority of photovoltaics are expensive silicon-based devices. Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) have emerged as cheaper alternatives to silicon solar cells, but they have relatively low energy conversion efficiency. One proposed method to increase DSSC efficiency is through plasmon enhancement. Plasmon-enhanced DSSCs (PEDSSCs) are thought to show greater efficiencies since the enhanced electromagnetic (EM) field around a metal nanoparticle can increase dye absorption. However, the EM field decays rapidly with distance. The greatest enhancement is predicted to occur at small distances (~10 nm) from the nanoparticle's surface, but extensive studies to quantify this value in the context of PEDSSCs have not occurred. In order to study the distance dependence of plasmon enhancement in PEDSSCs, we probed the enhancement in model PEDSSCs composed of silver nanoparticles that have been encapsulated in silica layers of various thicknesses (8.6 ± 3.2 nm, 9.1 ± 2.5 nm, 50.9 ± 4.3 nm, and 75.4 ± 4.8 nm). The fluorescence of rhodamine B (RB) dye molecules is measured as a probe of the distance dependence of plasmon enhancement, with preliminary measurements showing quenching at the surface of the nanoparticle and enhancement ratios of 1.99, 1.90, 1.41 on particles of 8.6 ± 3.2 nm, 50.9 ± 4.3 nm, and 75.4 ± 4.8 nm shell thicknesses, respectively. Future work will include covalent attachment of fluorophores and structural characterization with transmission electron microscopy (TEM).

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Thesis is part of Honors ETD pilot project, 2008-2013. Migrated from Dspace in 2016.

On-Campus Access Only