College of Arts and Sciences

Physics Professor Chosen as Fulbright Scholar in Turkey  

International Collaboration to Harness Sun for Next Generation Renewable Energy Solutions


Physics Fulbright Scholar Mehmed Alper Sahiner.

The U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board are pleased to announce that Mehmet Alper Sahiner, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Physics, has been awarded a 2023-2024 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award by the United States-Turkey Fulbright Commission. As a Fulbright Turkey Distinguished Scholar, Sahiner will conduct research in next generation of photovoltaic materials – those which convert solar energy into electricity – starting in January 2024 at the Nanotechnology Institute at Gebze Technical University (GTU). His project is titled, “Next Generation Thin Film Solar Cells: Improving Photovoltaic Conversion Efficiency by Nanoparticles.”

“Turkey is one of the few countries which has geographically great potential using solar energy as the dominant renewable energy choice. As a dual citizen of the United States and Turkey, and due to my past research collaborations, I know Turkey is also taking substantial initiatives for expanding the usage of solar energy as the main source of renewable energy soon,” said Sahiner. “I believe this Fulbright project will create many productive and efficient collaborations for the next generation of scholars between these two countries.”

The total energy the sun radiates in one second is equal to the total energy consumption of the whole world for one year. Therefore, the research and development of cost-effective and high-efficiency photovoltaic solar cells, which harness the sun’s energy and convert solar energy directly to electricity, is one of the most promising solutions to the energy problems for the near future. The inclusion of metal nanoparticles in photovoltaic cells creates the possibility of improving cell efficiency and reducing production costs. 


Prof. Sahiner teaches his students about the Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) instrument in the AMSCL Lab.

Maximum theoretical efficiency for current silicon based solar cells is at 25 percent. Multi-layer semiconducting thin films based on cadmium and tellurium could theoretically bring second-generation solar cell efficiency as high as 65 percent. The project will prepare nanoparticle-embedded solar cell thin films through a pulsed laser deposition technique at GTU’s Nanotechnology Institute. After the synthesis, the structural and electrical properties of these new advanced materials will be investigated both at the GTU and in the Advanced Materials Synthesis Characterization Laboratory (AMSCL) at Seton Hall University. 

Sahiner explained the overall project goal is to identify the correlation between structural and the electrical properties (efficiency) of these prepared solar cells in the search for the best materials that will be used in future generation devices. In the future, further advanced x-ray characterization of the synthesized thins films will be performed at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS-II), where Sahiner is an active researcher.  Specifically, x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAFS) experiments at the NSLS-II will provide a detailed picture of the multi-layer thin films with atomic scale resolution. This important collaboration between Seton Hall and GTU, including Brookhaven National Laboratory x-ray spectroscopy experiments, will lead to faculty and student researcher visits and exchanges between Turkey and the United States. 

"Professor Sahiner’s Fulbright Award exemplifies the distinction and reach of our stellar faculty,” said Katia Passerini, Ph.D., Provost and Executive Vice President. “Alper’s high-quality scholarship applies physics to real world problems such as sustainable energy. When our faculty foster international collaboration and interdisciplinarity, they enhance our reputation as a home for great minds and this elevates the global reputation of Seton Hall University's Physics program."  

Sahiner’s investigations in the areas of thin film deposition and structural and electrical characterization of advanced semiconductor materials, including photovoltaic materials, have for the last 20 years contributed significantly to the field. A senior scholar with substantial expertise in the research of the novel new materials synthesis and characterization for technological applications, he has participated in collaborative research locally, nationally and internationally. Prior to establishing a research program at Seton Hall, he worked as a post-doctoral researcher in academia, as a senior scientist in the high-tech industry, and as a scientist in Brookhaven National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS-II), where he continues as an active researcher. 

He has created many productive collaborations for the next general of scholars including as a visiting professor at prestigious higher education institutions including Koc University and GTU in Turkey in 2016, organizing six joint conferences and serving as the editor of three of the conference proceedings. Other international academic collaborations have included with Italian colleagues from Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK), with Spanish researchers from The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in various research projects and grants. 

John Buschman, Associate Provost for Research & Innovation congratulated Sahiner on his significant achievement: “It is inspiring to witness Dr. Sahiner’s commitment and dedication to green technology and solar energy research now and for generations into the future. It is a pleasure to celebrate his success in being selected as a Fulbright Senior Specialist.”  Sahiner most recently has also been at work establishing and implementing a new interdisciplinary MS in Applied Physics and Engineering, a graduate program that will enable students to work with faculty like him at the vanguard of research in green energy, green technology, materials science, and other areas of engineering that address pressing environmental and social problems.
Fulbright Scholar Awards are prestigious and competitive fellowships that provide unique opportunities for scholars to teach and conduct research abroad. Fulbright scholars also play a critical role in U.S. public diplomacy, establishing long-term relationships between people and nations. Alumni include 62 Nobel Laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize winners, 78 MacArthur Fellows, and thousands of leaders and world-renowned experts in academia and many other fields across the private, public, and non-profit sectors.

Categories: Research