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Department of Physics and Astronomy Collins Research Group

Research Presented at the Spring MRS in Seattle

Gradstudents Acacia Patterson and Tanner Melody presented their work at the Spring MRS meeting in Seattle. Alumnus REU student Ally Hurd also joined the group to present her project, extended at her home institution Macalester College, MN with her mentor Prof. James Doyle. Prof. Collins also presented an invited talk in the Symposium “Beond 20% Efficiencies with Organic Solar Cell Devices”.

Devin publishes in-situ polysoap micelle nanostructure

Graduate student Devin Grabner’s work on characterizing in-situ nanostructure and loading of novel polysoap micelles has been published in Langmuir. The work reveals the impressive capture and loading of aromatic cargo for therapeutics and water purification.  In-situ characterization shows this is due to an open corona structure likely controlled through macroion charging.  The work titled “Molecular weight-independent “polysoap” nanostructure characterized via in-situ resonant soft X-ray scattering” was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Phillip Picket at the University of Southern Mississippi and NIST as well as former Collins Lab postdoc Dr. Terry McAfee now at Berkeley National Laboratory.  Congratulations to all authors!

Read the article Molecular Weight-Independent “Polysoap” Nanostructure Characterized via In Situ Resonant Soft X-ray Scattering | Langmuir (

Chris and Elijah Present their Theses at the WSU Physics Symposium

Undergraduate physics majors Chris Lum and Elijah Allen presented posters of their thesis work in the Collins lab at the WSU Physics and Astronomy Fall 2023 Symposium.

Chris’ thesis is titled “Charge mobility of organic semiconductors.” Chris measured the hole mobility in the OLED polymer F8BT using the space charge limited current technique on devices he fabricated.

Elijah’s thesis is titled “Comparing solvent processes for organic solar cells.” Elijah measured radiative and non-radiative voltage losses in solar cells printed via different solvents using absorption spectroscopy and quantum efficiency techniques.

Congratulations to Chris and Elijah!

Acacia Patterson Defends her Master’s Project

Graduate student Acacia Patterson has successfully defended her Master’s Thesis Project titled “Morphology-driven comprehensive charge loss analysis of organic photovoltaics processed with non-halogenated solvents.” Her project focused on quantifying all fundamental losses in the model system PCDTBT:PCBM and correlating these to morphological changes from replacing the traditional toxic halogenated solvent processing with non-halogen processing. She plans to publish this work and continue on in the lab for a PhD in Materials Science. Congratulations Acacia!

New Additive Halts Runaway Crystallinity in OPVs published in ACS Energy Letters

New work on a better processing additive for OPVs lead by gradstudent Obaid Alqahtani has been published in ACS Energy Letters. The highest OPV efficiencies, now reaching 20% solar power conversion efficiency, are obtained by solvent additives that enhance nanodomain/crystallinity formation, but often result in runnaway crystallization with small processing fluctuations. the new work shows that a new solvent additive eliminates this problem while still enhancing device performance. Gradstudent Awwad Alotaibi as well as REU undergraduate student Michael Burnes are coauthors on the study, which was published in the American Chemical Society’s lead journal for energy research. Congratulations Obaid and coauthors!

Green Additive Limits Runaway Crystallinity in PM6:Y6 Organic Solar Cells but Causes Field-Independent Geminate Recombination | ACS Energy Letters

Devin Grabner – 2023 ALS User Meeting Invited Speaker & Planning Committee Member

Devin Grabner played a dual role at this year’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) User Meeting & Visioning Workshops. As a member of the Users’ Executive Committee, he helped organize the week’s plenary talks, events, and workshops, which celebrated the 30th anniversary of the first light and discussed the future of the ALS. In addition, Devin was invited to present his cutting-edge research on the development of a Liquid In-Situ Resonant Soft X-ray Scattering technique during the “X-Ray Scattering for Complex Materials and Interfaces at the ALS: Data Acquisition and Analysis” tutorial on the first day of the User Meeting. The meeting tutorials and visioning workshops were valuable opportunities to exchange ideas and insights on the latest developments in the field.

One of the highlights of the event was a lunch meeting with Dr. Dava Keavney, the Program Manager for X-ray Light Sources at the U.S. Department of Energy – Scientific User Facilities. Devin was among the group of researchers invited to discuss current U.S. Department of Energy policies and positions related to X-ray Light Sources such as the ALS. The photo below pictures the group, including Devin, and Dr. Dava Keavney (far right).

Devin Grabner Awarded Advanced Light Source Doctoral Fellowship

As a 5th-year Physics Ph.D. Candidate in our group, Devin Grabner has been awarded a prestigious doctoral fellowship at Berkeley National Laboratory – Advanced Light Source (LBNL – ALS).

An ALS Doctoral Fellowship allows student researchers to work at the frontier of synchrotron radiation research and to help advance state-of-the-art techniques and applications. Students who have passed their Ph.D. qualifying or comprehensive exams and advanced to candidacy can apply to spend a year in residence at LBNL, working closely with an ALS staff member. Fellows acquire hands-on scientific training and develop professional maturity to complement their doctoral research. Applicants must be full-time students currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program in the science or engineering disciplines and pursuing research that will benefit from ALS capabilities.


Obaid Alqahtani Passes his PhD Defense

Obaid Alqahtani successfully defended his PhD dissertation entitled “Structure-property correlations in heterojunction organic solar cells across material systems via synchrotron X-ray techniques”. He completed his candidacy with his PhD committee including advisor Assoc. Prof. Brian Collins (Chair), Prof. Katie Zhong, and Prof. Matthew McCluskey. Obaid will continue in the group this summer as a postdoc before teaching at Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia in completion of his PhD Fellowship commitment.

Congratulations Obaid!

Emma Speight Awarded Outstanding Student in Physics

Undergraduate Emma Speight was awarded the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Senior in Physics ceremony for all programs in the College. Here thesis work in the Collins Lab involved optical investigations of printed organic electronic active layers under different conditions. She is pictured with Collins and Prof. of Physics Fred Gittes.

Emma will continue her education in graduate school at the University of Oregon. Congratulations Emma!