CAREER Award Recipient to Explore Potential of Promising New Material in Optoelectronic Applications

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Sufei Shi, an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), is the recipient of the CAREER grant award.

The National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) grant will allow Shi and his team to explore new uses of transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) in an optoelectronic device.

Two-dimensional semiconductors, particularly those made of TMDCs, have potential applications in a range of current and future technologies, such as solar cells, LED lights, and quantum computing.

“The potential is dramatic. The sky is literally the limit,” Shi said. “There are a lot of potential traditional applications for this optoelectronic device to do things with better efficiency and with a much faster speed, and there are also applications which currently are not possible.”

For the past few years, Shi and his team have been working on a process to fabricate clean and high-quality TMDCs in order to study their intrinsic properties and how light interacts with the atomically thin semiconductors.

The researchers have found a new particle known as an exciton within this class of materials, which is formed when light hits a semiconductor and a positively charged particle bonds with a negatively charged particle. The strong bond that unites those two particles holds a lot of energy that can also survive at more applicable conditions, such as room temperature.

The Rensselaer research team showed how a layer of semiconductor material could be stacked on top of another layer to create bilayers. This Lego-like approach, Shi said, would allow the team to make material building blocks with desired optic and electronic properties.

The CAREER award is the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award given to early-career faculty who show promise as academic role models in both research and education. This award will allow Shi and his team to build on their extensive progress and explore the potential of TMDCs even further.

The research was published in Nano Letters (

Published: January 2020
Pertaining to a device that responds to optical power, emits or modifies optical radiation, or utilizes optical radiation for its internal operation. Any device that functions as an electrical-to-optical or optical-to-electrical transducer. Electro-optic often is used erroneously as a synonym.
Research & TechnologyRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteCAREER granttransition metal dichalcogenidesoptoelectronicsemiconductorssolar cellsLED lightsquantum computingRPIawardspeopleMaterialslight speedRapidScan

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