Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Materials Science and Engineering


Gu Xu


Hany Aziz, Richard A. Klenkler



Committee Member

Tony Petric, Igor Zhitomirsky


Nanomaterials have been heavily studied in the past two decades. Previous findings have demonstrated that the characteristics of nanocomposites and the performance of nanomaterial-based devices are both determined by the interfacial characteristics of the nanomaterials. However, there are still some remaining challenges from interfacial characteristics to device applications, which are specified as follows: the difficulty in identifying the interfacial contacts of nanostructured surfaces, the instability of nanocomposite surfaces, and the under-researched mechanism of the correlation between interfacial characteristics and the performance of devices.

Therefore, the main theme of this thesis is to investigate the interfacial contacts of nanostructured solid-liquid interfaces by direct observation, and to develop a stable nanocomposite based on which the direct observation of the interfacial contact can be better conducted, and to eventually investigate the effect of interfacial contacts on the performance of organic solar cells.

As the previous identification of the solid-liquid interface is limited to a microscale range, a direct method of tracing the different wetting states of water was developed, on nanostructured surfaces. This method provided an answer to a long standing question of, whether there is a transition from Wenzel to Cassie states in the sliding angle drop on nanocomposite thin films. In order to complete the observation of the wetting states of water, a stable superhydrophobic nanocomposite thin film with hierarchical structure was developed.

Furthermore, with the knowledge of identifying the wetting states and the preparing procedures of the nanocomposites, a surfactant-free small-molecule nanoparticle organic solar cell with a much improved fill factor was developed by spin coating. The inverse correlation of series resistance and parallel resistance was discovered, due to the morphology change and the variation of the charge carrier concentration near the donor-acceptor interface in small-molecule organic solar cells.

McMaster University Library

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