• Assistant Professor
Matthew Sheldon

Educational Background

  • Ph. D., Physical Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley
  • B.A., Chemistry, Magna Cum Laude

Research Interests

  • Our research considers fundamental questions of optical energy conversion relating to plasmonic and inorganic nanoscale materials. Our experiments are principally designed to identify and optimize unique nanoscale phenomena useful for solar energy conversion, as well as related opportunities at the intersection of nanophotonics and chemistry. We employ optical and electrical characterization techniques with high spatial and energy resolution to probe optical excitation and relaxation mechanisms in nanostructured metals and semiconductors.
    The current world record solar cell operates at 44.4% power conversion efficiency. Thermodynamic analyses indicate that much higher efficiency is theoretically possible. Indeed, technical challenges, rather than laws of nature, limit current solar power convertors from achieving the maximum thermodynamic efficiency of 95%. 
    We seek to better understand how nanofabricated optoelectronic and plasmonic materials provide a route to achieve the maximum possible conversion efficiency with solid state and photoelectrochemical systems. We explore how nanostructuring materials enables systematic control of the thermodynamic parameters governing optical power conversion, enabling optimization that can shape, confine, and interconvert the energy and entropy of a radiation field. Additionally, the remarkable nanoscale tailorability of a variety of structural properties, such as electrochemical potential, can further enable novel photochemical systems with broad application beyond the scope solar energy conversion.
    We seek students who are interested to gain expertise in inorganic synthesis of nanocrystals with tunable electrochemical and optical structures, nanofabrication, and comprehensive characterization and modeling of optoelectronic structures. Particular emphases are optical absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy, photovoltaic device physics, nanoscale electrical characterization, scanning probe techniques, and optical simulation methods.

Awards & Honors

  • Winner, Journal of Materials Chemistry Poster Award, Materials Research Society Annual Meeting, Spring 2010
  • Outstanding Symposium Paper, Photocatalysis and Photoelectrochemistry, MRS Annual Meeting, Spring 2009
  • Franz Exner Award for Excellence in Chemistry, Carleton College, 2004

Selected Publications

  • M. Sheldon, J. van de Groep, A.M. Brown, A. Polman, and H.A. Atwater, "Plasmoelectric potentials in metal nanostructures", Science, 346, in press (2014), published online October 30, 2014
  • C. Eisler, Z. Abrams, M. Sheldon, X. Zhang, H. Atwater, "Spectral Width and Radiative Reemission Effects on Spectrum-Splitting Multiple Absorber Solar Cell Efficiency." Energy & Environmental Science, 2014
  • M. Sheldon, C. Eisler, H. Atwater, "GaAs Passivation with Trioctylphosphine Sulfide for Enhanced Solar Cell Efficiency and Durability." Advanced Energy Materials 2012 vol. 2 (3) 339-344
  • M. Sheldon, P. E. Trudeau, T. Mokari, L. Wang, A. P. Alivisatos, "Enhanced Semiconductor Nanocrystal Conductance via Solution Grown Contacts." Nano Letters 2009, 9, 3676-3682