Student Spotlight

Organic and Nanostructured Electronics Laboratory (ONE Lab): Melany Sponseller


Hometown, Country:
Camp Hill, PAUSA

Academic history prior to coming to MIT:
B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University

What brought you to MIT?
During my undergraduate, I became interested in device physics and nanomaterials, and in particular energy-related applications of these fields.  The research conducted in ONE Lab, which focuses not only on building an understanding of these scientific disciplines but also on engineering practical devices like solar cells or LEDs, seemed very exciting to me.

What problem are you trying to solve with your current research and what are some possible applications?
My current research focuses on the development of quantum dot solar cells.  These devices employ quantum dot films as light-absorbing layers, whose bandgaps can be tuned from the visible through the near-infrared simply by varying the size of the dots.  Importantly, in addition to being highly absorptive, quantum dots are solution-processable at low temperatures.  This offers the potential for quantum dot solar cells to be manufactured over large areas at lower costs than traditional wafer-based technologies, with the added value of being compatible with lightweight and/or flexible substrates.

What interests you most about your research?
I enjoy that my work is hands-on – that I get to design, fabricate, test, and analyze my very own solar cells.  It is exciting to work on a problem I find important, as well as to work with and learn from colleagues with an interdisciplinary range of scientific and engineering backgrounds.

What are your future plans?
I would like to pursue a career in research and development, most likely in industry.