Author: Dino Lencioni

Dana Kachman, a fourth-year electrical engineering student at the Whiting School of Engineering, has been named a finalist for the 2024 Hertz Fellowships, which provide winners with five years of funding for research at the graduate level. Kachman is one of 45 finalists who were selected from a pool of 860 applicants and represent 27 American universities. Winners will be announced in May. Most candidates are seniors or first-year graduate students pursuing studies in applied physical, biological, or engineering sciences.

These fellowships, established in 1963, are known for identifying and supporting the brightest young minds in science and technology. The funding provided not only offers fellows the flexibility and independence to pursue research tackling some of the most pressing challenges globally but also opens the door to a vibrant community, fostering collaboration among some of the nation’s foremost science and technology leaders.

Recognized as one of Optica’s 2023 Women Scholars, Kachman focuses on improving solar cells and their functionality, incorporating 2D transition metal dichalcogenides (flat material containing two elements) to improve lead sulfide colloidal quantum dot solar cells, the building blocks that help turn sunlight into electricity. She presented this work at the 2023 IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, held last June in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“Learning about the concept of colloidal quantum dot solar cells was fascinating,” says Kachman. “It blends my interests in nanomaterials and renewable energy with the goal of engineering flexible, cost-effective, and efficient solar cells. These solar cells have exciting applications for rooftop solar, large arrays, cars, mobile devices, fabrics, and clothing. The Hertz Fellowship would provide me with the flexibility and freedom to pursue bold innovations in solar energy harvesting.”