Joe Reczek honored as a Robert C. Good Fellow
Under the program, which is named for Denison University’s 16th president, a tenured faculty member is released from all normal teaching and advising responsibilities for one semester, in order to provide opportunities to advance major scholarly or other creative projects. The awards are competitive, and their number is limited. Reczek will work on research for his project titled “Towards tunable organic light-harvesting materials: Iterative photoelectric characterization of new donor-acceptor columnar liquid crystals.”
Reczek says that “It is of critical importance to the global society that we develop, educate upon, and utilize clean energy and technology to balance human consumption and development with the preservation of our planet and our way of life.
“The most abundant source of clean energy currently available is the sun, which provides more energy to the earth’s surface in one hour than the world uses in an entire year. Research in the Reczek Group, carried out exclusively with undergraduate researchers, is focused on the development of new types of organic materials for efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective solar technologies.
“We have recently made progress on new materials called donor-acceptor columnar liquid crystals (DACLCs) that show great promise as tunable light-harvesting materials. DACLCs get their amazing properties from the combination of two relatively simple components, rather than the complex and expensive synthesis of one component that does everything by itself. The two components self-assemble (stack on their own) into molecular columns that absorb sunlight well, and have the potential to conduct charge (electricity).
“Exactly how well these new DACLCs conduct charge is the next major question that must be investigated and optimized in these materials towards their use in solar cells, and it is this question that will be the major focus of the R.C. Good Fellowship work.
Collaborating with Dr. Stephen Maldonado at The University of Michigan, the Reczek group will employ a technique called pulse radiolysis time-resolved microwave conductivity (PR-TRMC) to directly measure the conductivity of DACLC materials. With over 30 materials in hand, and progress towards more being made everyday through undergraduate research at Denison, this work will allow us to further learn about and optimize DACLCs towards next generation materials for solar energy technology.”