A Reason to Stay

Related Stories A Student-Oriented-Lab A Resident Expert When Cassie Daddario (CWR ’10) first heard about the MORE Center, it was still in the planning stages. At the time, she was completing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and working in Genevieve Sauvé’s lab in Millis Hall. Members of Sauvé’s research group were synthesizing materials for solar [...]

When Cassie Daddario (CWR ’10) first heard about the MORE Center, it was still in the planning stages. At the time, she was completing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and working in Genevieve Sauvé’s lab in Millis Hall. Members of Sauvé’s research group were synthesizing materials for solar cells but didn’t have the equipment necessary to fabricate devices or test them. The center would give them that capability.

Now, as a third-year doctoral student, Daddario is trying to develop organic polymers that will make solar cells more efficient, longer lasting and cheaper to produce. For a significant portion of her research, she uses the MORE Center’s glove box, a 25-foot gas-tight enclosure that shields sensitive materials from the air.

Cassie Daddario conducts experiments in the MORE Center’s glove box, designed for working with air-sensitive materials. She is helping to develop a new generation of solar cells made with organic polymers.

Cassie Daddario conducts experiments in the MORE Center’s glove box, designed for working with air-sensitive materials. She is helping to develop a new generation of solar cells made with organic polymers.
Credit: Mike Sands

The box takes its name from a row of gloves anchored to one side; Daddario plunges her arms into a pair as she begins her work. For one experiment, she prepares a smooth polymeric film on a slide and then conveys it, glove by glove, to a vacuum deposition system attached to the box.

She programs the system to deposit a 100-nanometer layer of aluminum on the sample, followed by a 50-nanometer layer of silver. The aluminum will function as an electrode for the solar cell she is fabricating; the silver will help her team test how efficiently electrons move through the film.

Eventually, Daddario hopes to work as a consultant to architects and city planners who want to integrate solar cells into building materials. Thanks to her research experience at the MORE Center, she will have expertise in fabrication and testing as well as in the synthesis of new materials. This means she will be more versatile than other chemists entering the job market.

The prospect of doing research at the MORE Center was one of the factors that prompted Daddario to stay at Case Western Reserve for graduate school. “A lot of people are working on solar cells here, and if someone learns a new trick, they don’t hide it, because we’re not in competition,” she says. “There’s a big support system here.”