The controlled chemical modification of nanostructured semiconductor surfaces and the ability to tune electronic processes at this interface are of great importance for the development of new types of solar cells, electrochromic windows and sensors.
Our group synthesizes and studies rigid molecular linkers for the functionalization of nanostructured semiconductor nanoparticles (TiO2 ZrO2 and ZnO) with dyes, chromophores and redox-active groups. The linkers are made of a bridge and a functional group (anchor) to bind to the semiconductor, and are capped with a dye. The molecule-bridge-anchor design is used to control the distance, aggregation, binding and electronic properties of the dyes to the semiconductor surface. Examples of linkers include tripods and rigid-rod molecules. The systems that we are investigating range from simple molecules to complex supramolecular assemblies. For instance, more recently, we explored new methods to interface molecules and semiconductors using macrocyclic cages and host-guest complexes.