Susanna M. Thon is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. She studies nanomaterials engineering for optoelectronic devices, with a focus on solar energy conversion and sensing.
Her work applies techniques from nanophotonics and scalable fabrication to produce devices and materials with novel optical and electrical functionality. Thon’s team is currently working on a number of projects, including the development of plasmonic-photocatalytic systems that use nanoparticles containing aluminum to enhance light absorption in titanium dioxide. Team members are also researching ways to use nanostructured materials, such as colloidal quantum dots and plasmonic metal nanoparticles, to build multicolored, transparent, and next-generation devices.
Insights from Thon’s research on photovoltaics are helping to push the boundaries of efficiency and cost-effectiveness through the use of flexible platforms and new materials. Using 3D printing, Thon and her colleagues recently developed a flexible and transparent lens array that can increase the amount of power produced by solar cells twentyfold.
Thon’s work has received funding from the American Chemical Society, National Science Foundation, Maryland Energy Innovation Institute, Cohen Translational Engineering Fund, and the U.S. Army. She is the recipient of Johns Hopkins’ Catalyst and Discovery awards. More than 50 of her research papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals.
Thon is a past chair of the Optical Society of America’s Optics for Energy Technical Group. She is a member of the American Chemical Society, American Physical Society, Association for Women in Science, Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Materials Research Society, and Optica.
She received her bachelor’s degree from MIT in 2005 and her master’s and PhD (all in physics) from the University of California Santa Barbara in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins in 2013, she worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto.